Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic


ceramic filter, drinking water, life-cycle cost, sustainability assessment, sustainable development, WASH


Eighty percent of the 780 million people worldwide that access water from an unimproved source live in rural areas. In rural areas, water systems are often managed by community based organizations and many of these systems do not provide service at the designed levels. The Sustainability Analysis Tool developed in Chapter 2 can inform decision making, characterize specific needs of rural communities in the management of their water systems, and identify weaknesses in training regimes or support mechanisms. The framework was tested on 61 statistically representative geographically stratified sample communities with rural water systems in the Dominican Republic. The results demonstrated the impact that long term support by outside groups to support community management activities can improve sustainability indicators, including financial sustainability which is a significant issue throughout the world.

When analyzing the financial sustainability of water systems, it is important to consider all life-cycle costs including the expenditures made by households. Chapter 3 analyzes financial and economic expenditures on water services in 9 rural and peri-urban communities in Burkina Faso. Data from household and water point surveys were used to determine: socio-economic status, financial and economic expenditures, and service levels received by each household. In Burkina Faso recurrent financial and economic expenditures on water service ranged between US$5 and US$9.5 per person per year, with cumulative costs approximately US$19.5 per person per year. The average expenditures on water in Burkina Faso were well above the affordability threshold used by World Bank demonstrating the need to improve subsidies in the water sector.

The sustainability of water supply systems and the ability to ensure the health benefits of these systems is also influenced by the deficiencies in sanitation infrastructure. Unimproved sanitation can be a source of water contamination and a risk factor in water related disease. Furthermore, the effective management of community water supply infrastructure is not a sufficient condition for ensuring water quality and eliminating health risks to consumers. As a result water treatment technologies, such as ceramic water filters (CWFs), implemented and managed at the household level and combined with safe storage practices are proposed as a means of reducing these risks.

The performance of CWFs in laboratory settings has differed significantly from field studies with regard to microbial treatment efficacy and also hydraulic efficiency. Chapter 4 presents a 14 month field study of two locally manufactured CWFs conducted in a rural community in the Dominican Republic. Each of the 59 households in the community received one filter. The CWFs in this study performed poorly with regard to water quality and hydraulic performance. Focus group meetings and household survey suggests that flow rate is a major issue for user acceptability. To address the user concerns Chapter 5 presents two mathematical models for improving the hydraulic performance for the frustum and paraboloid designs. The models can be used to predict how changes in user behavior or filter geometry affects the volume of water produced and therefore can be used as tools to help optimize filter performance.