Paul Knowles

Adjunct Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering

Tel(212) 539-7000

Research Interests

Water Reuse, Water-energy-nexus, Water Resource Recovery

Paul Knowles has 16 years of experience in the water, wastewater and energy industry managing projects for both industry and academia. He is passionate about integrating wastewater and energy infrastructure to enhance resource recovery.

Whereas our modern civilization owes its gratitude to the drinking water distribution and sanitary sewer innovations of the last one hundred years; the challenges of the next century require our approach to water and wastewater be reimagined. Paul’s research explores sustainable approaches to wastewater treatment and the opportunity to recovery resources such as precious water and energy that can be part of the solution to alleviating current water stress and climate change. His experience covers the spectrum of treatment technologies from low-energy constructed wetlands to advanced membrane bioreactors used to upgrade wastewater for water reuse. He has designed, operated and managed anaerobic digesters used to convert our solid waste into biogas for renewable energy generation, and to recover carbon and nutrients in wastewater residuals. He creates modeling tools that evaluate the optimal blend of decentralized and centralized assets to achieve system wide resiliency against future climate and economics strains.

Paul holds an MEng in mechanical engineering from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. He earned a PhD from Aston University in 2012, writing his thesis on hydraulic modeling of constructed wetland treatment systems. In addition to his position at Columbia, Paul is a Senior Associate for Hazen and Sawyer, where he works on projects involving water reuse, energy and carbon neutrality, biosolids master-planning and design of water, wastewater and residuals treatment systems. He teaches EAEE 4163 Sustainable Water Treatment and Reuse.

Professional Experience

  • 2016 - Present  -  Hazen and Sawyer
  • 2010 – 2016 - Natural Systems Utilities, LLC
  • 2006 – 2010 – Aston University with Severn Trent Water, UK