A literature review on water quality management optimization models is presented. They include linear and non-linear approaches, deterministic and stochastic methods, as well as multi-criteria decision techniques. Two river basin decision support systems, DESERT and STREAMPLAN developed recently at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, (IIASA) are outlined. The usage of these tools is illustrated by results obtained for three river basins located in Central and Eastern European countries. Examples incorporate least-cost DO policies, regional strategies to reduce nutrient emissions with special regard to the control of inland sea eutrophication, multi-criteria decision making and the sequential usage of optimization and simulation models to assess the sensitivity of a particular policy in terms of water quality and economic impacts. Major features of available optimization models are classified. Reasons of their rare real life applications and associated barriers are evaluated, primarily the nature of legislation and related institutional structures. Finally, a future outlook is presented.

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