Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are shown to provide a number of capabilities which are of particular use to river basin operation and planning. GIS systems have the ability to display and graphically summarize both the input data for the analytical models and the results of application of management models using that data. The graphical display of input data can assist interpretation of conditions within the basin through depiction of spatial and temporal patterns in that data. GIS can also reduce the time required to enter data and improve the reliability of that data by reducing the errors in the data. The ability to display the results graphically improves the man-machine interaction which is generally accepted as being an integral part of multi-objective water resources analysis. Another important role for GIS is its use as an efficient interface between the data base and the operational computer models. It is asserted, however, that GIS should not be considered a means of providing final answers to complex water resources planning issues. It should be seen, rather, as an important component of Decision Support Systems by which information on the basin issues is transferred to the decision maker for his consideration. Specific aspects of the application of GIS are discussed in relation to a hypothetical river basin system used primarily for hydroelectric energy generation.

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