Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4D15: Management of Resilient Water Systems, 2021-22

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4D15: Management of Resilient Water Systems, 2021-22

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Prof R Fenner


Prof R Fenner

Lab Leader

Prof R Fenner

Timing and Structure

Lent term. 16 lectures ( Eight 2 hour sessions) + coursework. Assessment: 100% coursework.


The aims of the course are to:

  • Recognise the unsustanable feature of current water engineering practice
  • Appreciate the key features of managing the water cycle in a sustainable manner and the need to meet a variety of resilience criteria.
  • Be aware of recent practices and developments in managing all aspects of the water cycle in both developed and developing countries


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Understand the limitations of conventional /traditional water supply and wastewater engineering systems in a sustainability context.
  • Appreciate the key features of managing the water cycle in a sustainable manner and the need to meet a variety of resilience criteria.
  • Recognise and critically assess the problems and solutions associated with managing water engineering projects.
  • Be familiar with key aspects of drainage and wastewater management planning including the merits of Natural Flood Management (NFM) , Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and strategies for asset selection based on adaptation planning techniques.
  • Be aware of the asset management of water infrastructure and how this is influenced by serviceability and levels of service criteria.
  • Recognise global issues in relation to the equitable management, distribution and disposal of water under growing environmental, social and political constraints.
  • Relect appropriate forms of water supply and sanitation for use in developing countries.


The module will introduce and explore the   delivery of water services for water supply, wastewater treatment and flood control, identifying  unsustainable  aspects of current practice and reviewing  more resilient approaches.  The changing paradigms of water management towards fully water sensitive cities will be explained to understand how water fits within a wider urban metabolism.  The module will describe management strategies for water in both the urban environment and water in the rural environment, through adopting a flexible adaptation planning approach which avoids technical lock-in.  The interdependencies between water and other critical resources will be identified with respect to energy use and  recovery of nutrients;  the carbon budgets associated with the water sector will be assessed. Current progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Water) will be discussed and the key constraints of delivering essential water services in the developing world will be highlighted

Characteristics and components of water systems (overview)

Potable water treatment and supply.  Wastewater collection and treatment.  Urban drainage and flood control. Changing paradigms of water management .  Unsustainable features of current water management.  Water as a hazard and an opportunity

Sustainable water engineering and resilience frameworks

5 themes for sustainable  water management ( less water consumed; local waste  treatment  and recycling, stormwater retained, climate resilient, minimum energy  footprint). System properties and levels of service considerations.   Engineering vs ecological resilience; technical vs management resilience.   Avoiding technical lock-in to large infrastructure solutions. The Safe and SuRe approach; anti-fragile  planning of water systems;  (threat based, mitigation focussed top down water management vs  consequence based, coping focussed bottom up management strategies) 

Water quality issues and resource recovery

Water quality parameters and regulatory requirements; water quality prediction and control;  simple river quality models.  Engineered systems for resource recovery and re-use

Water in the urban system

Urban water metabolisms; integrated operation of water systems (e.g.  rainwater harvesting) ; real time control. Pressure and leakage  management in Water Distribution systems. Urban Drainage Systems- purpose, types and historical development.  Rainfall and surface runoff. Urban Pollution Management of intermittent discharges at Combined Sewer Overflows.  Principles of Urban Flood Risk Management. Source control of stormwater and Design of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS Manual)

Flood Risk Management using Adaptation Planning and Adaptive pathways

Concepts of Adaptive Planning ( e.g.  Thames barrier example). Methodological steps for developing adaptation pathways ( London Borough of Sutton Case Study) and appraisal  of multiple benefits in Blue Green Cities. Evaluating Blue-Green infrastructure using the  CIRIA B£St tool. Preparing Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans

Water in the rural system

Management of water resources, impacts of climate variability, catchment management. Principles of Natural Flood Management (NFM) and Integrated Catchment management (ICM);  international experience and practice.  Environmental benefits of land management, Upstream Thinking.

Role of water in water-energy-food/land nexus

Hydro-meteorological risks to critical infrastructure (including energy systems); water and energy interdependencies; groundwater implications of shale gas extraction;  strategies for a low carbon water industry, UKWIR framework for carbon accounting; energy from water (micro hydro, thermal heat recovery, anaerobic digestion of biomass etc), water for energy in a low carbon energy future; issues around water and food security.

Water in the developing world

Progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6; global level of access to water services. Water related diseases.  Key features of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes. Systems thinking in WASH.  Small community water supply systems. Low cost wastewater  treatment  (waste stabilisation ponds). On and off site sanitation including dry sanitation.


Coursework Format

Due date

& marks

Coursework 1: Individual Research Report on a key water related topic

An open ended  investigation in further detail of one aspect of water engineering practice

Learning objective:

  • To  develop the ability to seek new information and achieve a balanced critique of the existing literature through individual research of relevant details/topics NOT covered in the lecture programme
Individual Report
 anonymously marked

day during term, ex:

Thu week 4


Coursework 2: Resilience assessment of one aspect of water engineering practice

A critique of  one aspect of  current water engineering practice (e.g supply, wastewater dispsoal, drainage, development) against resilience criteria and propose key areas for change

Learning objective:

  • To apply a resilience and sustainable mindset to the delivery of water services

Individual Report

anonymously marked

  Wed week 9





1.      Ainger C., Fenner R.A. (2016)   Sustainable  Water   ICE Publishing   ISBN 978-0-7277-5773-9


2.      Radhakrishnan M., Lowe R., Ashley R.M., Gersonius  B., Arnbkerg-Nielsen K., Pathirana A., Zevenbergen C (2019) Flexible adaptation planning process for urban adaptation in Melbourne, Australia Proceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers – Engineering Sustainability Volume 172 Issue 7 September 2019 pp 393-403


3.      Ashley R.M. Gersonius B., Horton B (2020) Managing flooding - From a problem to an opportunity . Royal Society Philosophical  Transactions A  Volume 378 Issue 2168 Paper 0214 


4.      David Butler, Sarah Ward, Chris Sweetapple, Maryam Astaraie-Imani, Kegong Diao,Raziyeh Farmani & Guangtao Fu   (2016) Reliable, resilient and sustainable water management: the Safe & SuRe approach  Global Challenges 2016 (John Wiley)  


5.      Kate Neely (ed) (2019) Systems thinking in WASH  Practical Action Publishing ISBN-078-1-78853-026-2


6.      Butler D., Digman C., Makropoulos C., Davies J.W. ( 2018) Urban Drainage 4th edition.  CRC Press ISBN 978-1-4987-5058-5


Examination Guidelines

Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 20/05/2021 08:32