The issues of scale and complexity make it difficult to design physical problem-based exercises to enhance student learning in the discipline of water and environmental engineering. Thus, learning problems are mostly restricted to those investigated using standard laboratory setups or computer software applications. This paper presents the use of the Aqualibrium competition, a physical hydraulics problem, in enhancing the understanding of water distribution system operation for civil and environmental engineering students. The competition was open for enrollment of civil engineering undergraduate students who have completed or were at the time enrolled in the CIVL 400 (Water Resources Engineering) course at UAE University. In this paper, the competition delivery is explained in details, including aspects of team building, motivation, and timing. Data were collected on the academic performance of participating students and their feedback on their experience in the competition. Results show that the students participating in the competition while enrolled in the course were more enthusiastic about the competition and had better organization and teamwork. Students who had completed the CIVL 400 course had difficulties organizing meetings, which resulted in insufficient practice ahead of the competition. Student feedback results also show that while the competition encouraged self-learning, it left the students confused about the interactive principles of pipe network hydraulics.