Environmental impact assessment of potable water supply and sanitation in rural areas of developing countries
The main objective of the present research was to assess the environmental impacts of the provision of potable water supplies and sanitation projects, both during the construction and operation phases. The research was related to rural areas of developing countries. Field research was undertaken in the rural areas of the Northwest and Central regions of Iran. Data were obtained by observations and survey from the field, and a comprehensive questionnaire and literature review. Interviews were carried out by the author in households, particularly women, in four villages with a piped water supply and sanitation facilities, and four villages without such facilities, in the two different regions. To assess the beneficial and negative impacts stemming from the projects, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) techniques were used. After the application of EIA through the use of checklist of impacts and the Leopold's matrix, results demonstrated that the implementation of water supply and sanitation projects can have several negative impacts on the natural environment, and positive beneficial impacts on the social and economic environment. In relation to water supply and sanitation projects, the most effective EIA method was shown by this study to be the Leopold's matrix. It can identify both positive and negative impacts and the interaction between the project activities and environmental parameters. The most important recommendations that stem from this research are, that project planners and water engineers should employ EIA methods in planning water projects, particularly in the rural areas of developing countries.