Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

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

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Qiong Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Katherine Alfredo, Ph.D.


Carbon Footprint, Drinking Water, Life Cycle Assessment, Low- and Middle-income Countries, Sub-Saharan Africa, Sustainable Development Goals


Nearly 2.2 billion people around the globe struggle with access to safely managed drinking water (WHO/UNICEF, 2019), however, there have been certain initiatives taken, particularly by means of small water production facilities for enhancing access to basic drinking water services in rural areas. The water production facility, specifically located in the low- and middle-income countries, usually encounter operational difficulties as a result of limited availability of resources and are required to depend on other resourceful countries for goods and services. Although, with limited research done for assessing the environmental sustainability of water facilities in low- and middle-income countries, numerous data gaps were recognized.

The objective of this study is to access environmental sustainability of a small water production facility in Madagascar by a method called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), using SimaPro Version 7.3.3 as an evaluation tool. The study includes all components relative to the production, operation, and maintenance of the processes involved in production of potable water at the facility. The construction and end of life stages are not included within the analysis. The environmental impacts are accessed in terms of embodied energy and carbon footprint. The facility being located in an island country, relies heavily on other countries for import of most of the required materials and assemblies and trading unavoidably demands energy and fuel consumption for transportation causing air pollution and other environmental impacts.

Furthermore, it was estimated that operation of the potable water production facility as a whole unit had cumulative energy demand of 158 MJ/m3 and a global warming potential of 7.24 kg CO2-eq/m3. The overall environmental impacts were considerably lower because the production facility had installed solar panels for production of electricity for powering the facility, which tends to reduce the emissions and energy demand, otherwise related to the electricity production from grid. Also, the facility reutilize used 20-liter HDPE oil containers for packaging of treated water which is then supplied to the consumers. Prior to the refill of treated water, the used containers are cleaned and disinfected at the facility. Resulting in assisting the facility to reduce overall environmental impacts equivalent to 189 MJ/m3of cumulative energy demand and 5.63 kg CO2-eq/m3of global warming potential, related with the manufacturing of new containers required for packaging of treated water.

Additionally, it was discovered that the process of recycling of used containers for packaging of treated water had significantly higher contributions towards both the cumulative energy demand (102 MJ/m3) and the global warming potential (3.42 kg CO2-eq/m3). Closely followed by the utilization of diesel fueled transportation unit (5-ton truck) for delivery of packaged containers to kiosks with the cumulative energy demand of 47.5 MJ/m3and global warming potential of 3.42 kg CO2-eq/m3. While the process of treatment of water and electricity generation otherwise contributed least to the overall cumulative energy demand and global warming potential. Overall, the focus of this study is to provide an insight on the major constraining factors such as resource extraction, and dependence on importation of commodities that are involved in the operation of a small-scale water production system, particularly in a low- and middle-income country setting.