Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engr. (M.S.E.V.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Qiong Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mahmood Nachabe, Ph.D.


sustainable development goals, gravity-flow water supply, revenue recovery, field guide, multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA)


In the early 1990s, the United Nations (UN) recognized water as a finite resource to the entire ecosystem with an economic value that should be developed and managed based on the participatory approach using the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) strategy. Many studies on water management practices have thus emerged in the developing world. Of particular interest to this work is the management of water through metering, price-setting, and rule enforcement in the rural setting in piped, community-owned water systems. There is very little published information regarding metering, enforcement experiments, and experiences in these systems. This is because metering and enforcement mechanisms are not typically included in rural piped community-managed water supply system design and water committee training schemes. Along with an increase in population growth and changing climate patterns, there is a burgeoning interest to manage demand and reduce non-revenue water (NRW) in urban utilities in developing countries. Metering is often the demand management tool considered because it has been reported to increase customer payment rates as well as social equity. Rural, community-managed systems often suffer high failure rates due to the lack of preventative maintenance, which maybe closely linked to customer dissatisfaction and non-payment of tariffs. The inclusion of a metering and enforcement program to such systems may help to address the problem of high rates of premature failure.

An inclusion of a metering program for rural community-managed water supply systems is a non-trivial task in terms of cost as well as the system designer’s time, thus there is significant interest in ensuring such a program’s success. Many field workers may have familiarity with water system design but not specifically in the area of water flow metering and currently no beginner-level resources are publicly available. This work is ultimately intended to facilitate the inclusion of metering into rural, piped, community-managed water supply systems through: 1) compilation of technical information regarding metering which would be accessible to field practitioners and relevant to the rural community-managed setting, 2) a proposed decision-making tool to facilitate the selection of the most appropriate meter for the community, 3) proposed installation tips, and 4) suggested strategies for including metering into the community-management model. Objectives 1, 3, and 4 were pursued via review of industry, peer-reviewed, and field literature along with the author’s personal experience. Multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA) was the method proposed for aiding in the selection of the most appropriate meter type. It was determined that four types of meters are used for residential metering in developed and developing urban utility-managed systems: the nutating disc, oscillating piston, multi-jet, and single-jet. The nutating disc and oscillating piston meters operate through a volumetric or displacement mechanism, while the single- and multi-jet meters function through a velocity or non-displacement mechanism. While a lot of variation between models of meters exists, there are fewer characteristics that can be used to differentiate between mechanisms. After applying the multiple-criteria decision analysis to aid in the selection of the most appropriate meter for a rural, community-managed systems, the nutating disc and oscillating piston types of meters were most preferred under the set of criteria chosen by the author for the purpose of example in this analysis. It is recommended that meter selection be performed on a site-specific basis with local stakeholder involvement for criteria determination. Meter installation is similar for all four types of meters and whichever type of meter is chosen, it should be protected from tampering. Increasing-block pricing is recommended to accompany metering in order to motivate water conservation. The size and price of the initial block of water should be determined according to the system’s operation and maintenance costs as well as users’ willingness to pay information. Field practitioners should prepare the community to take over the metering program by providing basic training to the users and selected meter readers/technicians.