Dr Biniam Ashagre

Deputy Head of School
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Engineering and the Built Environment

Biniam has a strong background in water and urban wastewater systems management with the primary strengths in system wastewater systems optimisation, catchment-based hydrological modelling, water quality modelling, sustainable drainage systems, and ecosystem services.

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Biniam's research work has given him international experience, including in the USA, UK, Brazil, India, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. He has a proven track record in teamwork on applied research and multi-disciplinary projects with various stakeholders.

Biniam joined ARU in 2018, and his research here focusses on on the development of frameworks for creating a resilient urban water system in emerging economy countries. He has over ten years’ experience in conducting applied multidisciplinary research projects, and teaching in higher education.

His EngD project focused on automation and control of European urban wastewater systems, and formulation of new regulatory approaches to improve the quality of the water environment in a cost-effective manner while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Biniam worked at Cranfield University as a Research Associate where he developed an integrated catchment-based model to value the regulating services from wooden habitats in the Eastern Arc Mountains Tanzania. His research showed that conserving upstream forest areas can save millions for downstream major cities. In this multi-disciplinary project Biniam collaborated with various experts; economists, conservation scientists, urban planners, policy makers and forestry scientists.

Spoken Languages
  • English
  • Amharic
Research interests

Biniam specialises in urban wastewater systems management, including sustainable and resilient urban drainage systems, automation and control of wastewater plants, and optimisation of these systems through cost, carbon, and river quality interactions. Biniam’s research interest includes:

  • Integrated catchment management – hydrology, water quality and best management practices
  • Automation, instrumentation, and control of water resource recovery systems
  • Resilient and sustainable urban wastewater systems
  • Integrated real-time control of urban wastewater collections and treatments
  • River water quality management
  • Valuation of ecosystem services – the trade off to conserve forests
  • Sustainable drainage systems and their role in creating resilient cities
  • Circular economy
  • Water, energy, food, and ecosystem nexus
Areas of research supervision

Biniam is offering to supervise motivated PhD students in the following research areas.

  • Modelling, automation, control and optimisation of urban wastewater treatment systems – an integrated approach
  • Nature-based wastewater systems
  • Decentralised wastewater treatment systems for emerging economies
  • Water, energy, food, and ecosystem nexus to balance the need of society and ecosystem
  • Economic and hydrologic modelling to assess impact of land use changes and impact of climate change on river flow and water quality
  • Valuing water-related ecosystem services – an integrated approach
  • Resilient-focused urban wastewater and water resource management
  • The use of data analytics and artificial intelligence to create a resilient urban wastewater system
  • Sustainable urban drainages

Biniam teaches project-based modules, such as Civil Engineering Projects 1, that use a practical multi-disciplinary approach to develop fundamental skills in project planning, feasibility study, and preliminary design involving relevant stakeholders. In addition, he teaches Civil Engineering Group Design (focuses on the design of sustainable water/wastewater systems), Highway Design and Construction, Engineering Mathematics and so on.

  • EngD in Water Engineering, University of Exeter, UK
  • MSc in Hydrology and Catchment Management, Cornell University, USA
  • Bachelors degree (BSc) in Civil Engineering, Arba Minch University, Ethiopia
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Associate Editor, AQUA
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)
  • Member of Institute of Civil Engineers (MICE)
  • Member of the British Hydrologic Society (BHS)
  • Member of the International Water Association (IWA)
  • Member of Institute of Water IoW)
  • Member of the scientific committee for the 12th IWA Specialised Conference on Instrumentation, Control and Automation, Quebec, Canada, 2017
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • 2021: RESET Africa – a project aims to implement a systematic tree planting scheme in the afforestation practices in Africa, funded by Royal Academy of Engineering Frontier. The project focuses on Chad and investigates such schemes and their transferability to some other Africa countries such as Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Uganda. Nov 2021 – Nov 202
  • Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded Engineering Doctorate (EngD) degree in Water Engineering at the University of Exeter.
Selected recent publications

Ashagre, B. B., Fu, G., Butler, D., 2020. Automation and real-time control of urban wastewater systems: a review of the move towards sustainability. Aqua, 69(8), pp. 751–768. doi: 10.2166/aqua.2020.074

McClymont, K., Ashagre, B., Fernandes Cunha, D. G., Maidment, C., Vasconcelos, A. F., Batalini de Macedo, M., et al., 2020. Towards urban resilience through Sustainable Drainage Systems: A multi-objective optimisation problem. Journal of Environmental Management, 275, p. 111173. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111173

Ashagre, B. B., 2018. Integrated Active Control Strategies and Licensing Approaches for Urban Wastewater Systems. Engineering Doctorate Dissertation, University of Exeter, UK.

Ashagre, B. B., Platts, P. J., Njana, B., Burgess, N. D., Balmford A., Turner, K., Schaafsma M., 2018. Integrated modelling for economic valuation of forest and woodland ecosystems in the provision of drinking water to a major African city. Ecosystem Services, 32, Part A, pp. 50-61, ISSN 2212-0416.

Easton, Z. M., Fuka, D. R., White, E. D., Collick, A. S., Ashagre, B. B., McCartney, M., Awulachew, S. B., Ahmed, A. A., Steenhuis, T.S., 2010. A multi-basin SWAT model analysis of runoff and sedimentation in the Blue Nile, Ethiopia. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 14(10), pp. 1827-1841.

Collick, A. S., Easton, Z. M., Ashagrie, T., Ashagre, B. B., Tilahun, S., Adgo, E., Awulachew, S. B., Zeleke, G., Steenhuis, T.S., 2009. A simple semi‐distributed water balance model for the Ethiopian highlands. Hydrological Processes, 23(26), pp. 3718-3727.

Ashagre, B. B., 2009. Using SWAT to Identify Watershed Management options: Anjeni Watershed, Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia. MPS thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.