The role of the water tankers market in water stressed semi-arid urban areas:Implications on water quality and economic burden

Kinda Constantine, May Massoud, Ibrahim Alameddine, Mutasem El-Fadel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Scopus citations


    Population growth and development are associated with increased water demand that often exceeds the capacity of existing resources, resulting in water shortages, particularly in urban areas, where more than 60% of the world's population resides. In many developing communities, shortages often force households to depend on water tankers amongst other potential sources for the delivery of water for domestic and/or potable use. While water tankers have become an integral part of the water supply system in many countries, the sector is often unregulated and operates with little governmental supervision. Users are invariably unaware of the origin or the quality of purchased water. In an effort to better assess this sector, a field survey of water vending wells and tankers coupled with a water quality sampling and analysis program was implemented in a pilot semi-arid urban area (Beirut, Lebanon) to shed light on the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the water tanker sector. Total dissolved solids (TDS), chloride (Cl), and microbial loads exceeded drinking water quality standards. While TDS and Cl levels were mostly due to saltwater intrusion in coastal wells, tankers were found to be a significant source of total coliforms. Delivered water costs varied depending on the tanker size, the quality of the distributed water, and pre-treatment used, with a markup of nearly 8–24 folds of the public water supply and an equivalent economic burden of 16% of the average household income excluding environmental externalities of water quality. The study concludes with a management framework towards consumer protection under integrated supply and demand side measures.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)85-94
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Environmental Management
    StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017


    • Socio-economic impacts
    • Water quality
    • Water tankers


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