Civil and Environmental Engineering


First Advisor

Libby Jones

Date of this Version



White, C. T. (2021). Determinants of Water System Management (M.S. thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Civil Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Libby Jones. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Caleb T. White


Water system management is complex, involving state, local, and federal regulations and impacting people from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Systems in the developing and industrialized worlds both face challenges in managing water systems. Much research has been completed regarding associations of water system violations and system factors, and there has been an increased attention to issues of environmental justice – how water system violations affect communities of color, impoverished communities, and rural communities. Currently no studies have focused on the associations between socioeconomic factors and water system management violations. The goal of this research was to ascertain the significant determinants of water system management.

Two analyses were conducted to attain this goal: a nation-wide statistical analysis of management violations and individual case studies for two Nebraska, USA and two Madagascar water systems. The binomial logistic regression analysis used community-level socioeconomic and water system characteristics to determine the likelihood of a management violation. The case studies further explored the significant factors determined during the statistical analysis for applicability and review of additional determinants.

The statistical results agree with published studies, while the case study presents areas for further research. The systems most likely to have a violation during the study period were surface water systems; systems with higher Black/African populations; or rural, middle income Latino populations. Communities with a greater percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree showed a decrease in violations, while communities with higher levels of poverty showed an increase in violations. Population movement into a community was associated with a decrease in violations. The state where the system was located showed significant correlation with the number of management violations. The case study suggests two additional areas that impact water system management: availability and affordability of additional water sources and the presence of trained labor and staffing within the community.

Adviser: Libby Jones