Robert B. Sowby, Ph.D., P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE

Combining research and consulting experience, Dr. Rob Sowby has contributed to over 200 civil engineering projects throughout North America. He is a water resources engineer with particular expertise in hydroinformatics, the water–energy nexus, hydraulic modeling, and infrastructure planning. Dr. Sowby is a sought-after writer and speaker on these subjects. He studied civil engineering at Brigham Young University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah. His other interests include classical music, mountaineering, business, German literature, and travel (50 states + 27 countries and counting). He is the 2020 recipient of ASCE’s Daniel W. Mead Prize for Younger Members.

Professional Experience

Hansen, Allen & Luce, Inc. (present)
Water Resources Engineer

Selected projects: Utah’s Regional M&I Water Conservation Goals, Utah’s Water Use Data Collection Program, Sandy City Fluoride Overfeed Investigation

Salt Lake Community College
Adjunct Faculty, Natural Sciences

Brigham Young University
Research Assistant, Hydrology

Applied Geotechnical Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Laboratory Technician


University of Utah
Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Urban Water Group
Dissertation: New Techniques to Analyze Energy Use and Inform Sustainable Planning, Design, and Operation of Public Water Systems

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.Eng., Civil and Environmental Engineering
Thesis: Hydrologic and Hydraulic Assessment of Artificial Recharge in the Sparta Aquifer of Union County, Arkansas

Harvard University
Graduate studies, environmental and ecological sciences

Brigham Young University
B.S., Civil Engineering
B.A., German Studies (secondary major)
Minor, Mathematics

Selected Publications

Learn to Launch: A Guide to Starting New Projects
Book, 2017

To Uphold and Enhance the Profession
ASCE Daniel W. Mead Prize, 2020

Discussion of “Improving Energy Efficiency of Small Water-Resource Recovery Facilities: Opportunities and Barriers”
Journal of Environmental Engineering, in press

Discussion of “Effect of Pipe Size and Location on Water-Main Head Loss in Water Distribution Systems”
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, in press

Emergency Preparedness and COVID‐19: A Review of AWWA Policy Statements and Guidance
Opflow, August 2020

Emergency Preparedness after COVID-19: A Review of Policy Statements in the U.S. Water Sector
Utilities Policy, June 2020

High-Resolution Energy Intensity Modeling to Improve Water Distribution System Performance
Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, January 2020

Water is a Finite Resource, with Hidden Energy Savings Floating Just Below the Surface
ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry, 2019

Energy Management Program Leads to Operational Improvements
Opflow, May 2019

Discussion of “Leakage Control and Energy Recovery Using Variable Speed Pumps as Turbines”
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, June 2019

Data Challenges and Solutions in Energy-for-Water: Experience of Two Recent Studies
Journal AWWA, February 2019

Conformance of Public Water Use Data to Benford’s Law
Journal AWWA, December 2018

Correlation of Energy Management Policies with Lower Energy Use in Public Water Systems
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, November 2018

Statistical Model and Benchmarking Procedure for Energy Use by US Public Water Systems
Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, November 2018

Comparison of Operational Energy Requirements in Publicly and Privately Owned U.S. Water Utilities
Utilities Policy, October 2018

Four Energy Metrics for Public Water Systems
APWA Utah Fall Conference, October 2018

Discussion of “Systems Analysis and Optimization of Local Water Supplies in Los Angeles”
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, July 2018

Jordan Valley Water Redefines Sustainable Water Supply Through Energy Management
Journal AWWA, October 2017

Survey of Energy Requirements for Public Water Supply in the United States
Journal AWWA, July 2017
Accompanying dataset: Energy Intensity Data for Public Water Supply in the United States

Hydraulic Modeling Finds, Fixes Chlorine Residual Gaps
Opflow, June 2017

Energy Management in the Water Sector: A Major Sustainability Opportunity
ECWS-1, November 2016

Drought-Proof Design: Desalination Offers Alternative Water Supply
Water Efficiency, November/December 2015

Logan, Utah: A Case Study in Water and Energy Efficiency
Journal AWWA, August 2015

Rethinking Stream Crossings for Humans and Animals: Four Examples from New England
NEWEA Journal, Summer 2015

Water System Optimization: Aligning Energy Efficiency, System Performance, and Water Quality
Journal AWWA, June 2014

The Urban Water Cycle: Sustaining Our Modern Cities
National Geographic Water Currents, March 2014

Selected Presentations

United Nations 68th Civil Society Conference, 2019

APWA Utah Annual Conference, 2017–2019

ASCE World Environmental & Water Resources Congress, 2017–2019

AWRA Water Resources Conference, 2019

AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition,  2018–2019

AWWA Intermountain Section Annual Conference, 2015–2019

AWWA Sustainable Water Conference, 2019

Utah Water Users Association, 2018

Invited lectures:

  • ASCE Wasatch Front Branch
  • Utah State University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Idaho National Laboratory
  • MIT Water Club
  • MIT Club of Utah
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Salt Lake Community College
  • University of Utah
  • Utah Division of Drinking Water


Daniel W. Mead Prize for Younger Members (American Society of Civil Engineers)

A. Ivan Johnson Award for Young Professionals (American Water Resources Association)

Young Professional Award (American Water Works Association, Intermountain Section)


American Society of Civil Engineers
American Water Works Association (Energy Management Committee; Intermountain Section Scholarship Committee)
National Geographic Society
Utah Geographic Information Council


Professional Engineer: Utah, Massachusetts

Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP)