A key technical element in the EIA process is the prediction of impacts (effects) for both the without-project and with-project conditions. Numerous technical approaches can be used. As an example, the principles and guidelines of the Water Resources Council (1983) delineate several approaches which can be used in the EIA process for water resources projects. These approaches include:
1. Adoption of forecasts made by other agencies or groups
2. Use of scenarios based on differing assumptions regarding resources and plans
3. Use of expert group judgment via the conduction of formalized Delphi studies or the use of the nominal group process
4. Extrapolation approaches based upon the use of trend analysis and simple models of environmental components
5. Analogy and comparative analyses which involve the use of look-alike resources and projects and the application of information from such look-alike conditions to the planning effort.
A criticism of many early EISs is that the impact predictions were not based on formalized and repeatable methods with predefined relationships, such as mathematical equations, physical models, and other structured approaches. Accordingly, many environmental impact studies have been criticized based on their lack of scientific approach and technical validity. This criticism is diminishing as more knowledge is gained based on the use of quantitatively based prediction techniques in environmental impact studies and the development of additional techniques through routine scientific research projects.
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