Water Research Centre
Capability and expertise in water
The Water Research Centre brings together scientists, engineers and economists to address water management issues of national and international significance.
Through local and global collaborations, our researchers are finding and developing solutions to address issues in environmental water efficiency, catchment water quality, hydrology and climate variability, and the creation and management of more efficient water distribution assets.
The Water Research Centre is a member of the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute.
Environmental water efficiency
How do we best allocate water to catchments to optimise environmental, ecological and social outcomes?
New decision support tools are required that take into account landscape scale processes and trade-off multiple community benefits. This requires trans-disciplinary cooperation including: ecology, GIS modelling, hydrology, mathematics, engineering, economics and optimisation modelling.
- Assessment of the likely ecological consequences to South Australian of the Proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan
- Identification of diversion rules for a proposed waterway in the South East
- Development of a framework for using optimisation to schedule environmental flow management alternatives for rivers, wetlands, and floodplains
- Decision support system for water management in the Upper South East in South Australia
Water quality in catchments
Our goal is to better understand the processes in catchments that influence water quality, including:
- What is the origin and flux of solutes in catchments, from micro-scale to macro scale and how can this understanding be used to improve water quality simulation and prediction in catchments, and its impact on environmental and agricultural systems?
- What are the biochemical processes that happen in lakes and reservoirs that lead to water quality issues such as blue-green algae outbreaks?
- Development of a global model on blue-green algae risk in reservoirs and lakes.
- Participation in the development of standardised water quality models for catchments
- Movement of solutes and carbon in catchments
- Changes in water quality following gypsum application to catchment soils of the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia
Hydrology and climate impacts
Our research activities aim to improve rainfall-runoff-recharge-water quality relationships and better understanding the interactions between climate variability, landscape characteristics and streamflow.
- Development of Bayesian Total Error Analysis (BATEA) - a comprehensive framework for parameter estimation and probabilistic prediction accounting for data and model uncertainties applied in hydrological modelling
- Understanding and modelling the compounding nature of risks to extreme events
- Use of palaeo-data to improve hydrological modelling
- Rainfall prediction
The WaterSYSTEMS Research Group is the world leader in the development of a range of numerical techniques for inverse transient analysis as it applies to pipeline condition assessment, and was one of the first groups to validate the techniques through laboratory experimental work.
We have developed a number of new techniques using transients (or water hammer) for condition assessment of water distribution systems, including:
- condition assessment of the interior of pipes (cement mortar lining spalling, corrosion);
- the detection of closed valves, leaking valves and blockages;
- leakage detection; and
- pipe roughness calibration in pipe networks.
New techniques include:
- inverse transient technique;
- the transient damping method;
- frequency domain techniques;
- wave timing techniques; and
- coded transients.
Our overall aim is to develop non-invasive, cost effective techniques for assessing the condition of pipes to enable water utilities to efficiently manage their assets.
Our research has been underpinned by fundamental investigation of water hammer modelling involving unsteady friction, column separation, alternative formulation schemes and unsteady minor losses.
Industry and engagement
Collaboration is vital for exchanging ideas and advancing science and its application. Further to our research activities, we also collaborate with government and industry.
Water resources are a key strategic asset for most countries in the world. Our research is targeted to underpin more sustainable management of natural resources, and we have a number of relationships with government agencies on collaborative research projects.
Joint appointments with government agencies help to build a ‘hard-wired' link between research and policy adoption. The Water Research Centre currently has joint positions with the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
Our research has helped to underpin:
- Lakes and reservoir management (internationally) to minimise the risk of algal blooms.
- Policy related to the management of the Coorong and Lower Lakes, a Ramsar listed wetland in South Australia.
- A decision support system and policy related to water management in the South East of South Australia, a biodiversity hotspot and site of a number of Ramsar listed wetlands.
- Policy related to the management of the River Murray.
Industry collaborations with universities are a major source of new innovations. For an individual business, commercial benefits can be obtained from cooperating with universities on research, but the pathway for cooperation needs to match the needs of the business and the skill-set of researchers.
Researchers with an interest in water at the University of Adelaide have delivered significant benefits to industry and government through their research, including industrial, environmental and agricultural benefits. In particular, our research has saved many millions of dollars in water infrastructure and maintenance costs through optimisation of design.
Research with industry can be tailored to meet your needs. By working through the Water Research Centre, you will be put in contact with researchers who will best meet your research needs, both in terms of expertise and ability to deliver to your timeframe.
You are invited to contact us to discuss your interests and ideas. We can help to match you requirements to researchers within our university, and to other potential partners and co-investors.