Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Qiong Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ricardo Izurieta, M.D., Dr.P.H., M.P.H.


Developing Country, Rural Water Development, Source Improvement, Peace Corps, Potable Drinking Water


The United Nations Millennium Development goals aim to make improvements in access to potable water. In the Bocas del Toro region of Panama, rainwater harvesting systems are making that goal more attainable. Rainwater harvesting, especially in rural, difficult access areas, may be a viable water source improvement that will allow a greater population to access improved water. This study uses the Carnegie Mellon University Economic Input-output Life Cycle Assessment tool to assess the embodied energy of plastic and ferrocement rainwater harvesting systems in rural Panama. Rainwater harvesting systems are assessed as source improvement technologies that increase access to potable water. This study adds to and compares its results to other source improvement LCAs that would potentially benefit developing communities in lesser developed countries.