Analysis of land suitability for the siting of inter-municipal landfills in the Cuitzeo Lake Basin, Mexico
This paper presents three spatial decision-support models (Boolean logic, binary evidence and overlapping index of multiple class maps) to perform a land suitability analysis for sanitary landfill siting. The study was carried out in the basin of Lake Cuitzeo, Mexico, with the objective of locating areas that comply with environmental regulations and with the inter-municipality criterion, i.e., that are accessible by at least two municipalities. Biophysical and socio-economic data were processed in a Geographic Information System (GIS). The three models differ in their complexity and restrictiveness. The Boolean logic model is easier to apply and more restrictive than the other two, because it is based on the assessment of single attributes. On the other hand, the binary data and overlapping index methods are relatively more complex because they require attribute weighting. The results showed that 23 of the 28 municipalities included in the basin have at least one area that was classified as highly suitable. The most suitable areas covered from 63.8 to 204.5 km(2) (from 1.5% to 5%), and they are not distributed homogeneously, but clustered around four main sites. The larger and most suitable of these sites is located in the central part of the basin, and it can be accessed by five of the most densely populated municipalities. The proposed approach represents a low-cost alternative to support a common spatial decision-making process in developing countries.
Analysis of land suitability for the siting of inter-municipal landﬁlls
in the Cuitzeo Lake Basin, Mexico
Otoniel Buenrostro Delgado
, Manuel Mendoza
, Erna Lo
Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias y Forestales, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicola
s de Hidalgo, Posta Veterinaria Km, 1.5
Morelia-Aeropuerto, Morelia, Michoaca
Centro de Investigaciones en Geografı
Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Auto
noma de Me
xico, Morelia, Michoaca
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Trento, Italy
Accepted 5 July 2007
Available online 14 September 2007
This paper presents three spatial decision-support models (Boolean logic, binary evidence and overlapping index of multiple class
maps) to perform a land suitability analysis for sanitary landﬁll siting. The study was carried out in the basin of Lake Cuitzeo, Mexico,
with the objective of locating areas that comply with environmental regulations and with the inter-municipality criterion, i.e., that are
accessible by at least two municipalities. Biophysical and socio-economic data were processed in a Geographic Information System
(GIS). The three models diﬀer in their complexity and restrictiveness. The Boolean logic model is easier to apply and more restrictive
than the other two, because it is based on the assessment of single attributes. On the other hand, the binary data and overlapping index
methods are relatively more complex because they require attribute weighting. The results showed that 23 of the 28 municipalities
included in the basin have at least one area that was classiﬁed as highly suitable. The most suitable areas covered from 63.8 to
(from 1.5% to 5%), and they are not distributed homogeneously, but clustered around four main sites. The larger and most
suitable of these sites is located in the central part of the basin, and it can be accessed by ﬁve of the most densely populated municipal-
ities. The proposed approach represents a low-cost alternative to support a common spatial decision-making process in developing
2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Due to insuﬃcient funds and technical training, munic-
ipalities in Mexico are incapable of sustaining their own
sanitary landﬁll operations (Buenrostro and Bocco,
2003). Most of the 2443 municipalities in the country dis-
pose their municipal solid wastes (MSW) in open sites, or
at best in controlled dumping sites, thus creating negative
impacts on the environment and public health. Conse-
quently, constructing sanitary landﬁlls that comply with
environmental legislation and that reduce the undesired
eﬀects of current practices is one of the main MSW man-
agement priorities in Mexico.
Sanitary landﬁll site selection needs not only to comply
with existing environmental regulations, but also to
account for operational and economic issue s. In particular,
a key requirement that aﬀects the ﬁnancial sustainability of
landﬁlls in Mexico is the possibility to meet the needs of
two or more municipalities, which can share construction
and operational costs (inter-municipal arrangements). San-
itary landﬁll siting involves physical, social and economic
variables; hence it is essential for the site selection process
to be carried out by an inter-disciplinary team.
Many of the attributes involved in the process of selec-
tion of sanitary landﬁll sites have a spatial representation,
0956-053X/$ - see front matter 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +52 443 3340475.
E-mail addresses: email@example.com (O.B. Delgado), mmendo
firstname.lastname@example.org (M. Mendoza), email@example.com (E.L. Granados),
firstname.lastname@example.org (D. Geneletti).
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146
which in the last few years has motivated the predominance
of geographical approaches that allow for the integration
of multiple attributes using Geographic Information Sys-
tems (GIS) (Kontos et al., 2005; Sener et al., 2006 ). How-
ever, there is an increasing social tendency to reject the
construction of sanitary landﬁlls (Lober, 1996), mainly
for two reasons. The ﬁrst reason is the insuﬃcient promo-
tion and diﬀusion of social and environmental beneﬁts,
prior to decision-making processes, related to the construc-
tion of landﬁlls (Higgs, 2006). The second reason is the
prevalence of the use of physical variables, such as soil
type, depth and permeability (Balstone et al., 1989), thus
overlooking socio-economic issues, such as land tenure
and the proposal of mitigating measures to reduce the
potential impacts on the local population (Rava, 1989).
Nonetheless, the reasons highlighted by a widespread rejec-
tion of landﬁlls are related to factors such as health con-
cerns and the impact on property values.
In Mexico, the promotion of public projects prior to
decision making is essential in order to reach a social con-
sensus. Conversely, the resulting politicization of issues
may severely hamper the construction of public facilities,
such as sanitary landﬁlls, thus worsening the shortage of
adequate sites for the proper disposal of MSW.
Baban and Flannagan (1998) recognize two basic meth-
ods for the selection of sites for building sanitary landﬁlls.
The ﬁrst method is based on criteria that ensure the
approval of the local population. This method has two
approaches for gaining the support of local people: the ﬁrst
one relies on social and political considerations; the second
one is based on economic incentives. While these two
approaches may be satisfactory from the political stand-
point, their sole reliance on the satisfaction of local popu-
lation causes the oversight of environmental, technical and
economic issues, which are vital for the success of the
The second method relies on established engineering
protocols and planning techniques. It gives more emphasis
to the protection of the physical environment, but also
includes criteria to ensure the economic feasibility and
the public support of the project. In the last few years,
GIS has been extensively used to facilitate and lower the
cost of the process of selecting sites for sanitary landﬁlls
(Charnpratheep et al., 1997; Kao et al., 1997; Sener et al.,
Although landﬁll site selec tion analyses have been car-
ried out since the end of the last century (Siddiqui et al.,
1996; Balstone et al., 1989), this problem is still addressed
by the literature related to waste management. Recently,
several publications have tackled landﬁll siting problems
using GIS and multi-criteria analysis or intelligent system
approaches in Greece, Turkey, and Jordan (Vatalis and
Manoliadis, 2002; Kon tos et al., 2005; Al-Jarrah and
Abu-Qdais, 2006; Sener et al., 2006). All of them used
large-scale maps (below 1:25,000) with high thematic reso-
lution. Nevertheless, none of these studies included ﬁnan-
cial and economic constraints, which represent a very
important issue in developing and poor countries. The
application of GIS-based models in developing countries
is made diﬃcult by the lack of ﬁnancial resources in munic-
ipalities to hire a technical workforce with adequate train-
ing (Buenrostro and Bocco, 2003). In addition, in some
countries the availability of detailed data is limited (Char-
npratheep et al., 1997).
This paper explores and compares easily replicable
methods based on the use of GIS and multi-criteria analy-
sis at the regional level. The purpose is to build a spatial
decision-support system for landﬁll siting. Spatial deci-
sion-support systems provide organization to the computa-
tional power, improve the access to databases and the
application of models, and give support to decision-makers
in the assessment of the problem, providing at the same
time a higher level of understanding about the decision
problem and its implications (Malczewski, 1999; Shariﬁ
et al., in press).
This research is focused on locating landﬁll sites that
comply with Mexican environmental regulations, and that
are of inter-municipal relevance. The concept of inter-
municipality was introduced as a proxy criterion related
to the economic constraints mentioned before. In order
to reach this objective, three models for spatial data analy-
sis were applied: Boolean logic, binary evidence and over-
lapping index of multiple class maps, according to
deﬁnitions and formulas provided by Bonham-Carter
(1994). The study area is the Cuitzeo Lake Basin, in
2. The study area
The Cuitzeo Lake Basin covers an area of about
and is located across the Mexican states of
Michoacan and Guanajuato. The basin forms part of the
physiographic province of the Transmexican Volcanic Belt,
Northern latitude and between
Western longitude (Fig. 1). The topog-
raphy presents a limited elevation range and is formed by
high hills and plains. Geologically, the area is dominated
by volcanic rocks of intermediate and basic composition
dating from the Miocene and Quaternary periods (Pas-
et al., 1991). The predominant types of land cover
in the basin are shrubs, forests and agric ulture (Lo
nados et al., 2006).
The basin includes 28 munici palities, 24 of which belong
to the State of Michoaca
n and four to the State of Guan-
ajuato. The area is inhabited by nearly one million people,
70% of which live in urban settlements (Acosta, 2002). The
largest settlem ent is Morelia, the capital city of the State of
An increasing amount of solid waste is generated in the
region, and disposed in open dumps that do not comply
with the norms stated by relevant legislation (INE/
SEMARNAP, 1995; SEDESOL, 1994), which aim at min-
imizing the risks related to improperly managed MSW. The
proliferation of open dumpsites has the additional eﬀect of
1138 O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146
slowing down the economic and social development of the
municipalities, because the inadequate disposal of MSW
has a negative impact on soil and water, which represent
key resources for the economic growth of the region (Bue-
nrostro and Israde, 2003). A recent estimate indicates a
generation of 700 tons per day of MSW in the municipali-
ties within the Lake Cuitzeo Basin, which means a daily per
capita generation of approximately 0.7 kg, nearly one-half
of which is composed of plastics and industrial packaging
(Buenrostro and Israde, 2003 ).
Table 1 summarizes the criteria stated by the Mexican
Oﬃcial Norm NOM-083-ECOL-1994 (SEDESOL, 1994)
that are to be fulﬁlled by a site where a municipal sanitary
landﬁll is to be built and operated. However, it is very dif-
ﬁcult to apply these criteria at the regional scale (1:50,000–
1:100,000) due to data requirements. In Mexico, water
table depth, recharge area and permeability coeﬃcients
are available only if speciﬁc ﬁeld surveys have been carried
out at a local scale (around 1:5,000).
This study aimed at providing an overview of the land
suitability of a broad region to site landﬁlls. Therefore, sur-
rogate criteria needed to be used, that are compatible with
available data. The main data sources were geological
et al., 1991), landforms (Mendoza et al.,
2001), soil types (INEGI, 2000), depth and permeability
of soils, land cover and land use, urban settlements (Men-
doza et al., 2 001), road network (IMT, 2000), communica-
tion infrastructure (INEGI, 1996), and municipal
boundaries. All of these maps are at a 1:50,000 scale, except
for the geological data, which are available only at a
1:100,000 scale. Given that geological units cover wider
areas than terrain, soil and land cover units, this scale
was considered to be adequate for this regional suitability
analysis. The information from these data sources was ver-
iﬁed and updated in the ﬁeld, an essential procedure in
order to lower the uncertainty arising from the simulta-
neous analysis of several con ditions and from their homog-
enization at a regional scale (Tran et al., 2002).
By comparing the available data with the regulations, a
criteria tree was drawn, as shown in Fig. 2. As can be seen
in the ﬁgure, some of the criteria provided by the regula -
tions needed to be adapted. This approach represents an
attempt to make these regulations operational at a regional
scale. Therefore, the criteria tree was generated by combin-
ing an objective-driven approach (i.e., by using the objec-
tives set by the regulations) with a data-driven approach
(i.e., by accounting for the existing spatial data).
In Fig. 2, the top-level boxes contain the main input
data, whereas the boxes at the lower level represent the
Fig. 1. Study area and location of municipal dumpsites. Source: Municipal division of the Instituto de Geografı
O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146 1139
actual criteria derived from those data. Although the crite-
ria refer to the same issues contained in the regulations,
some proxy variables needed to be introduced. For exam-
ple, the permeability coeﬃcient was estimated by analyzing
soil type characteristics. As a proxy for water table depth
and recharge area, information on landforms and soil
depth was integrated. One of the regulations, the life span
of the site, was not considered relevant at the regional
scale, and therefore was excluded. The inter-municipality
criterion was added to the regulation requirements, estab-
lishing that the sanitary landﬁlls must be located in sites
that can be used by two or more municipalities, in order
to share the costs for construction and operation.
Spatial modeling of the thematic information was car-
ried out in a GIS using the software ILWIS (ILWIS,
2002). The analysis was initiated by locating the potentially
suitable zones for the location of sanitary landﬁlls in each
of the thematic maps by assigning a value of one if the con-
dition set by the Mexican regulations was satisﬁed and a
value of zero if the opposite applied. As an example, the
areas with soil depth greater than 1 m were given an output
value of one; the others were given a value of zero. The
Criteria for the selection of municipal sanitary landﬁll sites
Water table depth Sites must be at a vertical distance of over 10 m above the water table
Recharge area Sites must be at a distance of more than 1 km and downwards from the recharge areas of aquifers or drinking
Fracture and faults Sites must be at a distance of at least 100 m from the geological fractures and faults. Faulted zones may not be
used as landﬁll sites
Soil Soil must be impervious (have a permeability coeﬃcient <1 · 10
cm/s) and capable of removing pollutants
(cation exchange rate <30 meq/100 g of soil)
Cover material The available amount of cover material must be at least equal to 25% of the volume of MSW
Lifetime Sites must have a minimal useful lifetime of 7 years
Water bodies Sites must be at a distance of more than 1 km from ﬂooding areas, water bodies and natural water courses
Urban areas and communication
Sites must be at a distance of more than: 500 m from urban areas; 70 m from roads; 3 km from Protected Natural
Areas and airports; 20 m from electrical supply lines, oil ducts, petrochemical ducts; 150 m from petrochemical
Drainage Rainwater must drain out of the site by natural means
Topography Average slope should be less than 30%
Conservation Areas with signiﬁcant ecological or economic value should not be considered (e.g., temperate forests, irrigation
More than one municipality may use the facility and share building and maintenance costs
Source: Mexican Oﬃcial Norm (Norma Oﬁcial Mexicana) NOM-083-ECOL-1994 (SEDESOL, 1994).
Fig. 2. Flow diagram of the process followed for the suitability analysis.
1140 O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146
result of this process was a series of binary maps with
which the Boolean logic models and the binary evidence
models were applied.
The Boolean logic model gives equal weight to all binary
maps, i.e., all attributes are considered as being equally rel-
evant in determining land suitability for sanitary landﬁlls.
The Boolean algorithm for combining the analyze d attri-
where S is the suitability value, n, the number of attribute
, the weight of the ith attribute map and A
, the ith
binary attribute map.
The binary evidence model utilizes the same input data
of the previous approach, but provides for the assignment
of a weight to each attribute, according to its relative
importance. The binary maps are multiplied by their
weight, and then combined accordi ng to the following
where S is the suitability value, it n, the number of attribute
, the weight of the ith attribute map and A
, the ith
binary attribute map.
The weights were assessed by taking into account the
possibility of modifying the natural conditions of the sites
by appropriate engineering interventions, so as to increase
their suitability. For example, a high weight was given to
the distribution of geological fractures and faults because
this negative condition cannot be modiﬁed by human inter-
ventions. On the contrary, the road and infrastructure net-
work was considered less important, because it can be
extended and modiﬁed, if required by a given project.
The weights were assigned by a multi-disciplinary expert
panel, formed by local researchers. Panelists were asked
to discuss the importance of the criteria, and to provide a
qualitative ranking. Subseq uently, the rankings were col-
lected by the facilitator and transformed into quantitative
weights normalized to one (Table 2).
The overlapping index of multiple class maps model is
based on the following expression:
where S is the suitability value, w
, the weight assigned to
the ith attribute maps and s
, the suitability score of the
In this model, the criterion map is transformed from
Boolean values to multiple suitability scores. This allows
introduction on graduate suitability levels that ﬁt better
the legend of the input maps. These scores are close to zero
when the class is poorly suitable, and close to one when the
opposite applies. For instance, a diﬀerent suit ability score
was assigned to each class of land cover map, according
to its degree of naturalness (i.e., assigning the highest suit-
ability scores to artiﬁcial covers). The reclassiﬁcation of the
input maps into suitability scores was provided by the
multi-disciplinary expert panel. The expert panel was com-
posed of ﬁve scientiﬁc specialists from the local academic
institutions (University of Michoacan and University of
Mexico campus Morelia), with speciﬁc background in geo-
logical risk, geopedological survey, land cover analysis,
biological aspects, and waste management issues.
The suitability maps obtained by applying Eqs. (2) and
(3) were then reclassiﬁed. Cells with suitability values smal-
ler than the mean value plus one standar d deviation were
considered as unsuitable. All other cells were divided in
four classes, named S1 to S4, according to increasing suit-
ability levels. The class intervals were derived from the fol-
lowing expression, which is based on the statistical
distribution of the data (Shariﬁ and Herwijnen, 2003):
X ðx þ rÞ
where IW interval width is the X maximum value,
mean value and r, standard deviation.
Subsequently, the criterion of inter-municipality was
integrated in the analysis, and used to reclassify the three
suitability maps. The maps generated by the three models
were reclassiﬁed according to the distance from mu nicipal
boundaries using a two-dimensional table (Table 3). For
this purpose, the linear distance was calculated, rather than
a distance weighted with the road network, because the lat-
ter was already included as a criterion in the land suitability
analysis. As shown in Table 3, distances from municipal
boundaries longer than 15 km wer e considered a severe
limiting factor that aﬀects the overall suitability assess-
ment. This distance threshold was gathered by informal
interviews with the local solid waste collectors during
In all three models, the geology, geomorphology and
soil maps were used together with their associated tabu-
lated data to assess the ﬁltering and buﬀering capacity of
Attribute weights used in the binary evidence model
Lakes and dams 0.09
Urban settlements 0.10
Land cover vegetation and land use 0.06
Communication infrastructure (telephone lines, telegraph lines) 0.04
Petrochemical storage plant 0.09
Active geologic fractures and faults 0.13
Soil depth 0.13
Soil permeability 0.10
Road network 0.05
O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146 1141
soils in sites that are susceptible to leaching. This allowed
assessment of the risk of pollutant migration from poten-
tial landﬁll sites to underground water systems. The data
on vegetation cover, land use, urban centers, and commu-
nication and electrical supply lines represented supplemen-
tary attributes for the selection of areas in which landﬁlls
would cause fewer problems to human health.
The results of the application of the three models are
presented in Table 4. The Boolean logic model estimated
that about 5% of the surface of the Cuitzeo lake basin is
highly suitable for the implementation of municipal land-
ﬁlls (Fig. 3). This model resulted in 24 municipalities hav-
ing highly suitable areas, none with zones ranked as
suitable, nine with moderately suitable areas and three hav-
ing poorly suitable areas. Unsuitable areas were found in
all 28 municipalities. In particular, six municipalities were
entirely classiﬁed as unsuitable, due to their proximity to
the water divide, and to their limited surface area within
the basin. This model is the more restrictive one given that
it estimated that 94% of the total basin area is unsuitable
for municipal landﬁll sites.
Most of the highly suitable and suitable areas are
located in the central part of the basin, and clustered along
the boundaries of four municipalities, which includes the
city of Morelia. These areas are found on low hilly terrain,
covered by rain-fed agriculture, grasslands and shrublands.
Additionally, several smaller highly suitable areas are scat-
tered along the northern bor der of the basin. Their current
land cover is rain-fed agriculture and shrubland.
According to the binary evidence model (Fig. 4), 5% of
the area of the basin is highly suitable, 22% is suitable, 15%
is moderately suitable, nearly 3% is poorly suitable, and
54% is unsuitable. This model detected highly suitable
zones for landﬁlls in 23 of the 28 municipalities of the
basin. However, unlike the previously discussed model,
the binary evidence model indicated that all 28 municipal-
ities have at least a few suitable, moderately suitable, or
poorly suitable areas. According to this model, all of the
municipalities include unsuitable areas. Also in this case,
the most suitable areas a re located in the central sector of
the basin. Along the northern border, suitable areas are lar-
ger and more connected, in comparison to the Boolean
model results. The southwestern region presents suitable
to moderately suitable areas, which are clustered within
the municipalities of Morelia, Acuitzio and Lagunillas.
They occur mainly on piedmonts and low hills, covered
by shrublands and rain-fed agric ultural ﬁelds.
The model overlapping index of multiple class maps
(Fig. 5) estimated that 1.5% of the basin surface (distrib-
uted in 25 municipalities) is highly suitable, nearly 8% of
the area (distributed in all 28 municipalities) is suitable,
16% of the area (in all 28 municipalities) is moderately
suitable, 2% of the area (in three municipalities) is poorly
suitable, and 78% of the area (dis tributed in all 28 munic-
ipalities) is unsuitable. The spatial pattern of the most suit-
able areas is similar to the one obtained with the binary
evidence model. However, in this case the areas tend to
be smaller and less connected. Suitability patterns in the
three maps are clearly inﬂuenced by the inter-municipality
criterion, which negatively aﬀected inner regions.
Finally, the data in Table 5 summarize the evaluations
obtained by applying to the case study the three spatial
decision system models discussed above. Three aspects
were considered relevant to be included in the evaluation:
ﬁrst, accessibility, referring not only to the ﬁnancial costs
of the program but also to the availability of technical
support; second, level of complexity that relates to the
operational level of complexity of the analyses and to
the level of abstraction of the models; and third, the level
of conﬁdence in the results of the models for decision
Two-dimensional table for the reclassiﬁcation of the ﬁnal map
Distance from municipal boundaries Suitability values
S1 S2 S3 S4
<2500 Unsuitable Moderately suitable Suitable Highly suitable
2500–5000 Unsuitable Moderately suitable Suitable Suitable
5000–7000 Unsuitable Moderately suitable Moderately suitable Moderately suitable
7000–15000 Unsuitable Poorly suitable Poorly suitable Poorly suitable
>15000 Unsuitable Unsuitable Unsuitable Unsuitable
In the Boolean model, zero corresponds to S1 and one corresponds to S4.
Area covered by the suitability classes
Suitability Boolean logic Binary evidence Overlapping index of multiple class maps
Area in km
Area % Area km
Area % Area km
Highly suitable 197.0 4.9 204.3 5.1 60.3 1.5
Suitable 0.0 0.00 880.2 22.0 310.5 7.8
Moderately suitable 17.6 0.4 607.9 15.2 652.5 16.3
Poorly suitable 17.9 0.4 110.2 2.8 79.7 2.0
Unsuitable 3771.3 94.2 2190.7 54.9 2890.7 72.4
1142 O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146
making regardin g the implementation of municipal sani-
The increasing quantity of MSW generated in M exico is
one of the greatest challenges faced by governmental
authorities to meet public demand for improvements on
waste management. To mitigate the impacts on the envi-
ronment and on public health, fast decision making regard-
ing the management and ﬁnal dispo sal of the MSW is
required. However, hurried decision making does not
always result in the selection of an adequate alternati ve,
because often the technical studies needed to support this
process are beyond the ﬁnancial and technical capabilities
of the municipalities.
Recent modiﬁcations to the Mexican regulations aimed
at improving the practices of ﬁnal disposal of MSW stimu-
lated ‘‘integral studies,’’ ‘‘diagnoses’’ and ‘‘executive pro-
jects’’, among other surveys, with the purpose of siting
municipal sanitary landﬁlls. Consultancy ﬁrms in Mexico
often lack the expertise and the professional proﬁles needed
for such studies. Furthermore, many of these consultancies
are geographically and socially remote from the actual con-
ditions faced by the municipalities that appointed them. As
a result, the costs of the studies rise, often be yond the eco-
nomic capabilities of municipalities, and the surveys are
limited to a few exploratory visits and oﬃce work. This
generates unrealistic and unreliable results, which lack a
proper scope for alternatives. For example, this occurs
when essential variables are not taken into account, such
as the actual feasibility of acquiring the selected land. As
a consequence, the studies are not used by municipal gov-
ernment agencies. Furthermore, at present, most landﬁll
siting studies are not carried out because they have not
been included in the municipal budgets.
A problem related to landﬁll site selection in Mexico is
that the responsibility of the ultimate decision falls on
administrators who do not have expertise in solid waste
management. Consequently, it is important to develop
decision-support methods that reduce the uncertainty,
and increase the capability of these administrators to
undertake well-informed decision-making processes.
The use of GIS reduced both the margin of error and
the time needed for the analysis of the physical and bio-
logical variables, thus lowering the overall cost of the
selection process. However, in Mexico, as well as in other
developing countries, ﬁnancial constraints reduce the
access to computer systems and trained technical staﬀ to
implement spatial decision-support systems. Furthermore,
the analyses based on the use of GIS in Mexico are
limited by the availability of map layers with a suitable
Fig. 3. Land suitability map resulting from the Boolean logic model.
O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146 1143
spatial resolution, because in most cases the existing maps
have medium to small scales (1:250,000, 1:1,000,000).
These scales are only adequate for preliminary land suit-
ability analysis, but not for speciﬁc site selection (Siddiqui
et al., 1996). This limitation makes it necessary to carry
out ﬁeld analyses, in order to assess the biophysical con-
ditions of the landscape, the socio-economic conditions of
the population, and the ﬁnancial feasibility of the project
(Israde et al., 2005).
A successful decision depends on the degree of aware-
ness of the conﬁdence level of the output. This requires
knowledge of the intrinsic precision of the cartographic
data, the scale of the input and the measuring tools used.
In the early stages of decision making, potential error
sources and uncertainties sho uld be recognized and prop-
erly managed, in order to reduce dissemination of errors
during the analysis and the cartographic representation.
According to the map with the coarsest spatial resolution
(i.e., the geological map), the scale of this analysis was
1:100,000, which is appropriate for regional suitability
analysis for landﬁll location, given that it is the same scale
used for the Regional Land Use Plan of the Cuitzeo Lake
Mexican regulations for landﬁll site selection cover
properly biophysical aspects, but lack a key soc io-eco-
nomic criterion, inter-municipality, which is essential to
guarantee ﬁnancial feasibility. Inter-municipality is espe-
cially critical in contexts characterized by internal geopolit-
ical polarization and uneven population distribution. This
applies to Mexico, where population is concentrated in
few small regions, and 2400 municipalities inhabited by
30 million people are facing severe economic hardships.
This paper aimed at testing and comp aring three spatial
decision models for land suitability mapping . The Boolean
logic model is less complex to apply; the other two models
require a weighting procedure. The weight assigned to each
criterion depends on the judgment and technical knowledge
of the evaluators. Therefore, weight assignment is a subjec-
tive process, which may have a strong inﬂuence on the
results. Sensitivity analysis can be carried out to under-
stand the eﬀects of diﬀerent weight sets on the overall
results (Geneletti, 2005). This study focused on the com-
parison of the eﬀects of diﬀerent aggregation methods,
rather than diﬀerent weights. For this reason, sensitivity
analysis was not performed.
The Boolean logic mod el is more restrictive in the selec-
tion of areas, whereas the other two models allow for
intermediate levels of suitability. The three models are
characterized by diﬀerent degrees of restrictiveness. The
ﬁrst model is the most restrictive one, because each
Fig. 4. Land suitability map resulting from the binary evidence model.
1144 O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146
criterion has to be fully satisﬁed; consequently suitable
areas are very limited. The other two models allow for
compensation among the criteria, and therefore a larger
part of the basin was classiﬁed as suitable to some degree.
Considering the characteristics of the restrictiveness lev-
els of each model mentioned in Table 5, it can be consid-
ered that the Boolean logic model is the most suitable of
the three models for implementation conditions in develop-
This research presents a GIS-based inter-disciplinary
approach to map land suitability for sanitary landﬁlls at
a regional level in Mexico. Existing regulations were
adapted to the geographical scale of the study and inte-
grated with the inter-municipality criterion, in order to
ensure the ﬁnancial viability of the facility. To achieve this
objective, three spatial models were applied: Boolean logic
model, binary evidence map model and overlapping index
of multiple class maps model. The results of the models
were submitted to the local environm ental authorities as
an input to support regional land-use planning in the Cuit-
zeo Lake Basin.
At a local level, landﬁll site analysis should be carried
out by conducting ﬁeldwork to collect geotechnical and
hydrogeological data at a larger scale. Additionally,
Fig. 5. Land suitability map resulting from the overlapping index of multiple class maps model.
Comparative matrix of the levels of restriction resulting from the
application of each of the three spatial decision system models analyzed
Due to the cost of acquiring the
High High High
Due to training requirements Low Moderate High
Of its implementation Low Moderate High
Of its management Low Moderate High
Level of abstraction of the
Moderate Moderate High
Information required for
applying the model
Moderate Moderate High
Level of conﬁdence of the results High High High
O.B. Delgado et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 1137–1146 1145
consensus must be sought among the involved stakeholders
and authorities before making a ﬁnal decision.
This research was partially supported by the Coordina-
n de la Investigacio
ﬁca from Universidad Mic-
hoacana de San Nicola
s de Hidalgo through project No.
5.9 an d by Project 2005-01-011 (Fondo Mixto CONA-
CYT-Gobierno del Estado de Michoaca
n). We acknow-
ledge IMT-SC for the data on roads and the Instituto de
a de la UNAM for the municipal boundary infor-
mation. We also thank the referees for their comments and
suggestions in order to improve the paper.
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