College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


water, utility, AASA, SABESP, SAGUAPAC


Academics, global leaders, and practitioners have debated, for decades, over the best management models (public, private, decentralized) of water utilities for increasing water access. Proponents of privatized water utilities argue profit motive incentivizes efficiency leading cost saving, infrastructure improvements, and increase usage. Proponents of publicly owned water utilities argue that efficiency is improved do to accountably to a constituency. Proponents of decentralized utilities argue locally owned water utilities maximize resource efficiency and eliminate waste because of accountability and local knowledge.

This thesis investigated whether these debates over the best management model for increasing accessibility oversimplify a complex global development issue. To investigate the impact of management models of water utilities had on water coverage this thesis used statistical analysis coupled with three water utility case studies (Aguas Argentina (AASA) in Argentina, Companhia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de São Paulo (SABESP) in Brazil, Cooperativa de Servicios Públicos Santa Cruz (SAGUAPAC) in Bolivia). Statistical analysis did not identify a satisfactory relationship between management models and water coverage. Additionally, case studies showed nuanced factors external to management models significantly impacted a utility’s water coverage.