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

Dedicated to advancing sustainable water supply, 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

Brigham Young University (present)
Assistant Professor, Civil and Construction Engineering

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

University of Utah
Associate Instructor, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Salt Lake Community College
Adjunct Instructor, 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

Increasing Water and Wastewater Utility Participation in Demand Response Programs
Energy Nexus, 2021

Discussion of “Effect of Pipe Size and Location on Water-Main Head Loss in Water Distribution Systems”
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 2021

When the Power Goes Out, Who Still Has Water?
Journal AWWA, 2021

Energy Profiles of Nine Water Treatment Plants in the Salt Lake City Area and Implications for Planning, Design, and Operation
Journal of Environmental Engineering, 2021

Reconnecting Water Resources Research and Practice
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 2021

Accepting Peer Reviews as Continuing Education for Professional Engineers
Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 2021

Discussion of “Improving Energy Efficiency of Small Water-Resource Recovery Facilities: Opportunities and Barriers”
Journal of Environmental Engineering, 2021

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

Leading-Digit Patterns from Smart Water Meters
Hansen, Allen & Luce, 2020

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

High-Resolution Energy Intensity Modeling to Improve Water Distribution System Performance
Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, 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, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hydraulic Modeling Finds, Fixes Chlorine Residual Gaps
Opflow, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selected Presentations

United Nations 68th Civil Society Conference, 2019

APWA Utah Annual Conference, 2017–2020

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, 2015–2020

AWWA Sustainable Water Conference, 2019

Utah Water Users Association, 2018

Invited presentations and lectures:

  • ASCE Wasatch Front Branch
  • 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
  • Utah Division of Water Resources
  • Utah State University


American Society of Civil Engineers, Daniel W. Mead Prize for Younger Members, 2020

American Water Resources Association, A. Ivan Johnson Award for Young Professionals, 2019

American Water Works Association, Intermountain Section, Young Professional Award, 2019

American Water Resources Association, Utah Section, J. Paul Riley Student Paper Competition doctoral winner, 2018

American Water Works Association Intermountain Section, Fresh Ideas Poster Contest winner, 2018

Intermountain Sustainability Summit, Poster Contest graduate winner, 2018

Utah Water Users Association, Scholarship, 2012

Utah Engineers Council, Scholarship, 2011


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)