Identify and Prioritize the Most Significant Problems

A critical portion of the integrated plan is prioritizing the various sources of pollution as part of our overall decision-making process. We are trying to answer the basic question:

If we had a magic wand and could eliminate one source of pollution…which would it be?

There are a wide variety of pollutants that impact our natural environment and each of these can come from a variety of different sources.  How do we know which would make the greatest impact if it was magically eliminated?

The Integrated Plan utilizes a Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) toolset to help sort this out. The MCDA analysis takes an objective and scientific look at the significance of pollution sources in our region. The MCDA facilitates the critical thinking process in an open and transparent manner and allows us to inform our decision making apart from regulatory, political, or financial considerations.

graphic illustrating the multiple criteria decision analysis process

To achieve this, we assembled a multi-disciplinary panel of national environmental experts to provide technical input and assist in the scoring process. The team consisted of experts in the field of water, land and air pollution sources.

Sixteen key pollution sources were identified by these experts for assessment. Pollution indicators were then determined for each community priority, providing linkage between pollution sources and local priorities.  Each pollution source was scored and ranked by the team of experts, providing unique perspectives from experience across the United States.

graphic showing examples of pollution's effect to air, water and land

MCDA Results

The impacts of each pollution source on determined indicators were scored to ultimately provide quantifiable linkages to community priorities. This process has prioritized the most significant sources of pollution in the Springfield-Greene County area. The results highlight the most pressing environmental concerns in our community. This will inform the next step of the integrated plan – identifying and prioritizing solutions that provide the greatest return on community investment.

Read the final MCDA report. (pdf)

Takeaways:

  • Community stakeholders identified the 16 most significant sources of pollution in our region. These were then ranked based on their relative significance.
  • We created the largest comprehensive database of environmental information of any community in the state, with over 200,000 records from hundreds of various sources.