© IWA Publishing 2016 Water Science & Technology. Dewatering of sludge from sewage treatment plants is proving to be a significant challenge due to the large amounts of residual sludges generated annually. In recent years, research and development have focused on improving the dewatering process in order to reduce subsequent costs of sludge management and transport. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to establish reliable indices that reflect the efficiency of sludge dewatering. However, the evaluation of sludge dewaterability is not an easy task due to the highly complex nature of sewage sludge and variations in solid-liquid separation methods. Most traditional dewatering indices fail to predict the maximum cake solids content achievable during full-scale dewatering. This paper reviews the difficulties in assessing sludge dewatering performance, and the main techniques used to evaluate dewatering performance are compared and discussed in detail. Finally, the paper suggests a new dewatering index, namely the modified centrifugal index, which is demonstrated to be an appropriate indicator for estimating the final cake solids content as well as simulating the prototype dewatering process.