Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor 1

Brian Barkdoll

Committee Member 1

David Watkins, Jr.

Committee Member 2

Richelle Winkler


Water insecurity is a constant stressor for millions of people around the globe. The potential of gray water as an alternative water source has gained increasing attention in the literature. In water-scarce Muslim communities, the practice of ablution – the rinsing of the face, hands, and feet before prayer – offers a unique opportunity for gray water reuse.

This report investigates the feasibility of treating and reusing ablution gray water (AGW) with respect to religious acceptability, economic measures, and physical parameters in Tong, a rural community of Muslim subsistence farmers in northern Ghana. Investigatory tools included: household water use surveys, opinion leader interviews, wastewater collection prototype design, treatments identification and testing, and comparison to existing water soruces. A Ghanaian-made clay pot filter, coagulation and settling using moringa tree seeds, and P&G™ Purifier of Water were the treatments tested. Results were analyzed and compiled into a holistic, visual assessment tool termed a “Decision-making for Reuse of Ablution Wastewater (DRAW) Chart.” DRAW charts are an improved performance measure as they compare water sources based not simply on binary quality and time standards but on a spectrum that includes collection time, monetary investment, social acceptability, and water quality. The DRAW charts developed for Tong, including both current dry season water sources and gray water treatment options, indicate AGW reuse could be socially acceptable, has potential to provide quality water, and would be financially competitive with existing sources. AGW quantities cannot completely alleviate water insecurity but can offer a relatively quick and affordable supplementary water source without external assistance or the risk of failure often associated with other water solutions such as borehole drilling.

The process used in this study and resultant DRAW charts can clarify the multifaceted complexities of water supply in water-insecure, financially disadvantaged communities beyond Tong. The development of DRAW charts for such communities provides community leaders and aid partners a clearer view of all aspects relevant to making water solution decisions and allowing more targeted and appropriate proposals under local budgetary constraints and norms.