Water Resources and Asset Management Research Group

Our group's research focus is on how water is being captured and used, as well as the overarching management of engineered solutions and technologies.

Our focus

Our researchers are working on innovative engineering solutions in the following focus areas:

  • spatial sampling for land use management in urban and rural catchments
  • smart monitoring and management of water infrastructure
  • porous earth technologies for aquifer assets
  • decentralised and alternative water systems
  • stormwater harvesting into the urban water supply-quantity and quality aspects
  • water supply catchment modelling
  • quality classes and water supply sources in urban developments
  • scale-modelling catchment, soil and water.

Research areas

Smart water system design and data analytics

Ageing water assets results in about 19,000 pipe breaks every year in Australia and cost billion of dollars to maintain and repair. Meanwhile, emerging smart water technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT) based remote sensing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced data analytics, have provided opportunities to enable sustainable water asset management.

In collaboration with Australian water utilities and other research institutions, we are developing tools to make the most of the investment in smart water and wastewater networks. We transform data to meaningful information, which allows a proactive, instead of reactive, asset management.

Aerated furrow irrigation with runoff recycling (AFIRR)

Out of the 2-million-hectare irrigation industry in Australia, 900,000 hectares are under surface gravity irrigation. Excessive deep drainage is a major drawback of surface furrow irrigation systems. The current situation is exacerbated by the extensive use of heavy machinery on land, which compacts soil and results in less plant respiration and lower yields. This project aims to improve soil, air and water bonds for both saving water and increasing yield by simultaneous application of water on the surface and air injection below ground which is the so-called aerated furrow irrigation with runoff recycling (AFIRR). Our initial physical modelling of AFIRR indicates a 5% increase in soil moisture retention and 15% of total water applied as recycled tailwater runoff, showing a 20% improvement in water application efficiency.

Water storage underground

Around 97% of the world’s liquid fresh water is stored in aquifers. Water supplies from underground have many advantages including: no losses due to evaporation, the availability of local aquifers in many regions, and they provide modular asset development opportunities. It's typically less expensive to use local groundwater than to pipe, pump and treat water sourced from outside the region. However, groundwater supplies must be used in a sustainable manner and managed for any underground engineering project such as tunnelling and mine construction. Interactions of groundwater with surface waters and other assets must be carefully evaluated using a range of monitoring, site investigation, water tracer techniques, drilling and core testing, as well as computer modelling.

Our current projects include research in:

  • the sustainability of aquifers for supplying water for town water, irrigation and baseflow to rivers
  • advanced pore pressure analysis methods using passive and inexpensive techniques
  • innovative ground testing methods and sensor systems
  • groundwater management for engineering projects such as tunnelling and mining
  • water tracer technologies for investigating recharge, mixing and inter-aquifer interaction.

Group members


Name Research interests
Associate Professor Lloyd ChuaIntegrated catchment management, reservoir management, numerical modelling of reservoir ecology
Dr James GongSmart water network design and data analytics, hydraulic analysis of pipe networks, structural health monitoring and assessment
Associate Professor Nick MilneWastewater treatment, wastewater management, management of salinity in regional areas, decentralise water treatment, water management in remote location
Professor Wendy TimmsPorous earth engineering, ground water, void water management, water and energy sustainability
Dr Wei ZengHydraulic transient, smart water network, pipe condition assessment, leak detection, pumped hydro

PhD students

Name Thesis topic
Mohammed A.Almajeed A.Alabas Investigation of flow characteristics and energy dissipation in gabion stepped weirs
Jinzhao (Jason) Chen Smart water networks for performance-driven operation and management of ageing water distribution systems
Mohammad Faysal Chowdhury Data analytics for pore water pressure – new tools for sustainable groundwater and engineering projects
Anees Kadhum Idrees Investigation of the hydraulic characteristic and energy dissipation for compound labyrinth weirs
Udai JahadInvestigation of the hydraulic characteristics of flow and air entrainment in stepped spillways with modified geometry
Ji-Sung LeeLeak detection in metallic-plastic composite water pipe networks
Minh Duc NguyenBeneficial reuse of sludge from water treatment processes
Shagun ShagunDeveloping an integrated model for the transportation of gross pollutant in urban catchment
Maryam ShirdashtzadehVariation of bacterial communities with water quality in urban catchments
Joshua SimSewer blockage detection for spill early warning in smart sewer networks
Milad Barzegar TouchahivAdvanced monitoring and analysis systems for subsurface monitoring of rock strata and groundwater systems
Brendan JoseyImproving the design standard of premise plumbing systems in Australian multi-level buildings
Vaughan MitchellAssessing water quality risk in water distribution networks in relation to bushfires
Pratik BhandariInfrastructure Systems: Achieving digital transformation in water utilities


Funded projects

    • Deriving knowledge from data – effectiveness of tank to toilet installations in Quay Estate, Torquay (2022), Barwon Water, $22,000
    • Victorian sustainable water yields (2021–2022), DELWP, $50,000
    • National groundwater recharge observing system (2022), ARC LIEF – Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities Program, $42,479
    • Monitoring and Modelling of Stormwater Runoff Quality and Treatment Performance within Constructed WSUD Assets - Using Novel Sampling and Analysis Techniques (2017-2020), City of Greater Geelong, $59,088
    • Simulation of Urban Floods Using Spatially Distributed Rainfall Derived from Weather Radar (2019-2021), AAS Regional Collaborations Programme, $30,000
    • Modelling irrigation systems (2021), Australian Processing Tomato Research Council Inc, $49,000
    • DP210103565 Smart pipe condition assessment in water distribution systems (2021–2023), Australian Research Council, $447,000
    • DP190102484 Next-generation smart water network for performance-driven asset management (2019–2021), Australian Research Council, $479,000
    • LP180100569 Detecting developing cracks before pipe bursts using smart sensor systems (2019–2021), Australian Research Council, $395,000
    • Partial blockage detection and spill early warning for critical sewerage pipelines in Lorne (2020–2022), Barwon Water, $96,000
    • Advanced monitoring and analysis systems for subsurface monitoring of rock strata and groundwater systems (2020–2022), Fluid Potential Pty Ltd, $60,000
    • The mystery of Thirlmere Lakes hydrology – deep groundwater, geology and geophysics (2018–2020), Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, $256,000
    • Water industry digitisation: A customer centric approach (2018–2019), Intelligent Water networks (Victoria), $49,972

Contact us

For more information about our research, please contact research coordinator Dr James Gong.

Interested in researching with us? Contact a researcher listed above to discuss a potential topic of interest.

Find out more about becoming a research degree student