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Dissertation Defence: A Path Towards ‘One Water’ Community: Performance Assessment and Benchmarking

April 11, 2023 at 8:30 am - 12:00 pm

Sarin Raj Pokhrel, supervised by Dr. Rehan Sadiq and Dr. Kasun Hewage, will defend their dissertation titled “A Path Towards ‘One Water’ Community: Performance Assessment and Benchmarking” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering.

An abstract for Sarin’s dissertation is included below.

Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public.

Please email kasun.hewage@ubc.ca to receive the zoom link for this defence.


An urban water system (UWS) has three main service components: (i) drinking water; (ii) wastewater; and (iii) stormwater. Historically, each component in urban water development evolved with different objectives for “different” types of water. Even today, the trend continues, as urban water services are managed in silos. The silo-based approaches are less sustainable, resilient, and reliable, mainly because of significant pressures on freshwater supplies exerted by the increasing population, high living standards, rapid urbanization, and climate change uncertainties. To cope with these challenges, conventional thinking needs to change. An innovative paradigm, the “One Water” approach (OWA), which considers “urban water” as a single entity, is the need of the hour. Currently, Australia, USA, and Singapore are leading the implementation of the OWA whereas the EU nations have emphasized the need for integrating water resource management (reflecting the One Water concept) in an urban environment. Only a few Canadian municipalities have embraced OWA at a very preliminary level.
This research aimed to develop an OWA-based framework to improve urban water sustainability, resiliency, and reliability. The research entailed five phases. Phase 1 identified Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to evaluate drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater performance individually. Phase 2 developed a performance assessment model that benchmarked UWS performance, determined weaknesses, and recommended necessary interventions to enhance overall performance. Phase 3 provided a bigger picture of OWA (definition and scope) concept, existing practices, and challenges to implementing OWA in a real-world environment. In addition, it also developed an optimization model to identify the optimum water conservation strategies to reduce potable water use. Phase 4 developed and prioritized OWA indicators to evaluate integrated UWS (IUWS) performance and measure water systems’ sustainability, resiliency, and reliability. Phase 5 adopted a design thinking approach to develop best practices in implementing OWA in UWS. The results of this research will provide foundational knowledge to evaluate individual water system performance and set performance benchmarks for small and medium-sized UWSs. In addition, the findings from this study will open new avenues for urban water managers to adopt OWA in their existing systems to evaluate their IUWS performance. Thus, it will assist policy-makers in establishing new guidelines to improve their UWS holistically and help decision-makers make strategic decisions to address an increasing urban water service demand.


April 11, 2023
8:30 am - 12:00 pm

Additional Info

Registration/RSVP Required
Yes (see event description)
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Research and Innovation, Science, Technology and Engineering
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates