Using Demand Management to Address the Problem of Intermittent Water Supply: The Capellanía Water System in Panama

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Many piped potable water systems in developing countries do not provide continuous service. Intermittent supply is a nuisance to users and can degrade water quality. During much of the year the Capellanía water system in Coclé, Panamá provides only intermittent service to many of its clients. This project examines ways to address the issue of unreliable service in the Capellanía water system by managing demand rather than increasing supply. Many supply management approaches are explored, including improved metering, a changed billing structure and infrastructure improvements to prevent water loss. The paper finds that managing demand is a less expensive and more effective way to improve service quality for residents in developing countries affected by unreliable water availability. (Note: This project originally won in the Big ideas “Science, Technology, and Engineering Policy” category.)