Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maya Trotz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tara Deubel, Ph.D.


Bailer, Bucket Pump, Central America, Groundwater, Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable Development


Amid the global efforts surrounding United Nations' Millennium Development Goal Target 7c to improve access to safe and sustainable drinking water among populations who lack this resource, it has become essential to monitor and evaluate progress. Development initiatives working to achieve improved drinking water access often introduce appropriate technologies designed to be sustainably owned and operated by populations in rural areas suffering from water related hardships. It is valuable to thoroughly examine the degree to which these technologies satisfy intended objectives and affect user experienced water access. The accurate reflection of impact and progress can be complex, as the evaluation of water supplies can be made based on a variety of indicators that range from "improved' or "unimproved" water source definitions to measurements of the capacity of a source to satisfy desirable conditions related to water quality, quantity, reliability, or user's preference. The goals of this research are to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the effects of two appropriate technologies on local water access using an assortment of methods including: water quality analysis, visual and manual inspection, user interviews, and an overall sustainability analysis.

In Panama, the indigenous Ng[oumlaut]be people in the [Ntilde][oumlaut]Kribo coastal area are a group disproportionately affected by a lack of improved access to drinking water and challenges to the feasibility of piped gravity fed water systems that typically serve the rest of the country. An NGO aiming to ameliorate this situation introduced two improved groundwater supply technologies to the region: bailers and EMAS hand pumps. This study assesses the comparative performance of these systems and evaluates the respective performances of existing water sources, using the wide variety of quantitative and qualitative data obtained.

The data collected in this investigation suggested that bailers and EMAS pumps yielded a mixed level of performance based on physical, chemical, and bacteriological water quality measurements in the shallow wells of the study environment. The technologies generally satisfied international guidelines and expected ranges based on chemical and physical parameters such as conductivity, TDS, and turbidity (with 57% of samples under 5 NTU). EMAS hand pumps demonstrated excellent bacteriological water quality with all samples indicating undetectable levels of E.coli, while bailers had a fair performance with 83% of samples falling into a range signifying intermediate to no associated health risk.

When comparing the overall water quality performance between the two hand augered well systems and with existing sources, the results indicated that bailers and EMAS pumps performed similarly in all aspects except for bacteriological quality. Overall, analysis based on groupings of "improved" and "unimproved" sources yielded very little distinction between the two categories when considering chemical, physical, and bacteriological parameters. This highlights the added value of using alternative indicators such as WHO guidelines to assess water sources, despite the challenges associated with field water quality sampling.

Interview data demonstrated that hand augered wells significantly improved household water access in the study area based on user considerations by providing a reliable water drinking water alternative with adequate quantities of water perceived to be clean. Accordingly, the improved water systems were integrated as a resilient water source into a socio-cultural context noting variable dependence on multiple water sources with categorized, appropriate related water uses set informally by Ng[oumlaut]be families. The overall sustainability analysis found EMAS hand pump and bailer technologies to be effective and appropriate; featuring low costs, few materials, and simple designs. Bailer systems were considered to be especially promising for applications in similar remote areas with high groundwater tables. However, the ultimate sustainability of both systems in the local context was found to be largely dependent on factors related to the development strategy adopted while implementing these systems in the [Ntilde][oumlaut]Kribo area.