Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James Mihelcic

Co-Major Professor

Amy Stuart


Developing Country, Household, Unmetered, Urban Water Resource Management, Water Scarcity


Population growth, urbanization, degrading water quality, and climate change are making management of scarce water resources an increasingly difficult task for the domestic sector. It is recognized that in order to manage urban water resources demand management is requisite. Demand management has been experimented with in large cities of developing countries but continued focus on expanding supply overshadows its potential benefits and ultimate success. In order to manage demand, it must be measured and understood. Intermittent water services are prevalent in developing countries, but unmetered domestic water use under such conditions has not been carefully studied. This study conducted 1,149 household surveys in a small, growing, coastal city (population est. 35,645) in La Libertad, Peru. The objectives were to 1) characterize current household water use behaviors, perceptions and values as they vary among three user groups (two distinct unmetered intermittent water services and well users) and reveal the existing water use and potential household demand for water, and 2) propose demand management tactics applicable to conditions of the study site that may be generalizable to small, developing, cities. Survey results show daily per capita water use in the range of 35 to 90 L with more water being used by the group that receives water for a longer duration of time. The distribution of water was inequitable and, on average, households received water for less time than the service providers' reported duration. Demand is likely to grow due to increasing water-related infrastructure, established water behaviors, and a lack of understanding regarding regional scarcity and water conservation. Households are not satisfied with existing service conditions, particularly water quality, but due to an apparent distrust in their water providers are unwilling to pay for improvements. For domestic service to remain sustainable under the pressures of increasing water scarcity, demand management strategies, particularly education and awareness building, are likely achievable and should be adopted, complementary to supply-minded management.