Water Resources and Asset Management Research Group

Our researchers are working on innovative engineering solutions. Our focus is on how water is being captured and used, as well as the overarching management of engineered solutions and technologies.

Our focus areas

  • smart monitoring and condition assessment of water and wastewater infrastructure
  • optimal design and operation of premise plumbing systems
  • 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 and integrated catchment management

Research areas

Smart water and wastewater network design and data analytics

Ageing water assets results in over 20,000 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. Specific applications include, but not limited to, leak management, water pipe break early warning, sewer blockage detection and sewer spill early warning.

Modernising premise plumbing design standards and practices

Since the Millennium drought, the average water consumption per capita has significantly reduced due to behaviour changes and the wide use of water-saving fixtures. However, our plumbing design standards and practices haven’t changed. Recent research has shown that the actual peak demands as observed in Australian multi-level apartment buildings were less than 30% of the designed values based on the current Australian plumbing standards. This results in significantly oversized plumbing systems and many associated problems.

We are collaborating with the plumbing industry and the regulators to better understand the characteristics of premise plumbing systems and to develop tools to improve the design of the system. Models have been developed to enable a more accurate estimation of the peak demand in Australian residential buildings. Ongoing research focuses on the optimal design with the consideration of water-energy nexus.

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

Professor Wendy Timms

Porous earth engineering, ground water, void water management, water and energy sustainability

Associate Professor Lloyd ChuaIntegrated catchment management, reservoir management, numerical modelling of reservoir ecology
Associate Professor Nick MilneWastewater treatment, wastewater management, management of salinity in regional areas, decentralise water treatment, water management in remote location

Dr James Gong

Smart water and wastewater network design and data analytics, hydraulic analysis of pipe networks, structural health monitoring and assessment

Dr Steven Rojas

Flood modelling, hydrologic modelling, ecosystems services, simulation of natural wetland dynamics

Current HDR students

Name Thesis topic
Mohammed A.Almajeed A.Alabas Investigation of flow characteristics and energy dissipation in gabion stepped weirs
Ji-Sung LeeLeak detection in metallic-plastic composite water pipe networks
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 Josey

Improving the estimation of the design peak demand of premise plumbing systems in Australian multi-level residential buildings

Vaughan MitchellAssessing water quality risk in water distribution networks in relation to bushfires


Funded projects

  • Network calming - using smart sensors to improve water asset performance (2023–2025), Australian Research Council, DP230101513, $390,945
  • Closing the gap in pipe condition assessment using hydro-acoustic waves (2022–2024), Australian Research Council, LP210301373, $368,000
  • Assessing water quality risk in water distribution networks in relation to bushfires (2022–2024), Barwon Water, $96,000
  • Improving the design standard of premise plumbing systems in Australian multi-level buildings (2021–2024), Hydraulic Consultants Association of Australasia (HCAA), $90,000
  • Smart pipe condition assessment in water distribution systems (2021–2023), Australian Research Council, DP210103565, $447,000
  • Hydrology and water quality monitoring and modelling studies for Sparrovale treatment wetlands (2021-2023), City of Greater Geelong, $180,000
  • 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
  • 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
  • Modelling irrigation systems (2021), Australian Processing Tomato Research Council Inc, $49,000
  • Next-generation smart water network for performance-driven asset management (2019–2021), Australian Research Council, DP190102484, $479,000
  • Detecting developing cracks before pipe bursts using smart sensor systems (2019–2021), Australian Research Council, LP180100569, $395,000
  • 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.