Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor 1

Amlan Mukherjee

Committee Member 1

Carol MacLennan

Committee Member 2

David Watkins


This report offers perspectives on effective environmental management procedures gained through field experience with the Peace Corps in Peru and with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The work in Peru focused on case studies of rural water supply management within the context of local legislation and development strategies and environmental management principles. The objective of this study was to lay out a framework for future development workers and governmental agencies aiming to improve the administration and operation of rural water system. UNOPS on the other hand, as the operational arm of the UN for the provision of infrastructure services, had piloted an Environmental Management System in compliance with ISO14001 standards in 2013. The work there involved identifying gaps in the system requirements and providing support to field operations in over 40 countries. The work with UNOPS was informed by the environmental management work started in Peru. The lessons learned on legal requirements and compliance and identifying the relevant supporting institutional stakeholders proved essential in supporting country offices in the implementation of the UNOPS Environmental Management System.

The first component is a literature review of work done by the Canadian governmental organization World University Service of Canada (WUSC) in Ancash, Peru. The outcomes of this intervention were published in a Peruvian Water and Sanitation periodical. This case study was selected because this same organization, in the years 1990-1995, worked on developing rural water access in the province of Palpa, another region of Peru and the site of volunteer service with the Peace Corps from 2010-2014. This field research allowed for an ethnographic study of the region 20 years after the initial scope of the intervention highlighting lessons learned and making recommendations for improvements. This study looks at ten rural water supply systems using Qualitative Comparative Analysis methods to identify causal relationships between the organizational management of these communities. Having identified the key activities required for the effective management of rural water supplies and the relevant stakeholders, it was possible to present the local government with a Rural Water Security Plan, outlining the course of action for improved water services. The organizational framework for the administration, operation, and maintenance of these water systems is then broken down according to Engineering Project Organization principles, taking into account the peculiarities of intermittent water supply management in order to determine the most sustainable course of action for improving rural water system management.

Finally, a summary is provided of the work accomplished with the Sustainable Infrastructure Practice Group of UNOPS, under the Health, Safety, and Environmental Management Program. Working within the structure of the ISO standards, the focus is on a risk-based approach to project planning and emergency preparedness with attention to detail regarding the maintenance of records, legal compliance, and the monitoring of program performance.