Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.E.S.

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic

Keywords

Developing World, Improved Water Supply, Water Demand, Water Distribution Equity

Abstract

Water availability and the cost of different water sources have been studied at great length. However, information is still needed to determine the policy directions to be undertaken by nations that have not yet achieved universal coverage of an improved water source. To further examine differences in water availability and pricing in the context of the developing world, three communities in Northern Mexico were surveyed to determine the differences in water distribution schemes and associated costs between rural and urban centers. It was observed that rural communities without a piped water supply paid 13 percent more for potable water supplies and 39 percent more for nonpotable water supplies than urban communities with a piped water source. A relationship between access to piped water and the probability of contracting diarrhea was also observed, with households with access to piped water having a lower probability of contracting diarrhea than those households without, and experiencing a lower number of days per month with diarrhea, on average. This leads to the observation that rural communities, who typically are less likely to be able to afford a piped distribution system, are paying more for their water supplies than nearby urban centers, both in terms of the money spent each month for water resources, and the costs associated with contracting and treating diarrhea. Steps should be taken by Mexico and other developing nations to ensure that water is distributed equally and priced fairly, so that the more impoverished subsets of their populations are not paying higher prices for their water.

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