Environmental engineering

WRL expertise icon WetlandEnvironmental engineering combines the resources of groups within the Water Research Laboratory to provide an integrated assessment of environmental impacts.

Teams comprising engineers, scientists and technicians are formed to best address the needs of each client, resulting in a unique, tailored solution to the assignment.

Emphasis is placed on understanding the processes which dominate the movement and dispersion of pollutants, with each project uniquely designed, managed and executed. Combined with our process oriented approach, the result is a coherent product tailored to meet the individual needs of the client.

WRL personnel are highly experienced in providing innovative answers to complex environmental engineering questions throughout Australia and overseas. Work centres around three major areas of investigation: Identification and quantification of pollutants discharged to the environment; the movement of pollutants through the domain of interest; and their impacts en-route and at their final resting place.

Traditional survey methods

Recent projects have focussed on:

  • Minimising the impacts of sewage outfalls on the marine environment
  • Complex estuary process studies
  • Tidal/wetland restoration projects

WRL places a high emphasis on the measurement and understanding of the physical processes occurring in the environment, so that the interaction with ecological processes can be best understood. WRL understands the importance of quantifying environmental effects so that decision making and planning can be undertaken.

Everlasting Swamp

Key areas

Climate drivers, Illustration by Anna Blacka, UNSW WRL
Climate drivers, Illustration by Anna Blacka, UNSW Water Research Laboratory

Process understanding 

  • Climate change adaptation/impacts
  • Sewage outfalls, desalination impacts and pollutant releases
  • Restoration of wetlands and estuaries
  • Boat wake wave impacts and management
  • Study design and monitoring in oceans, estuaries, rivers & lakes 

Environmental data 

  • Hydrologic, oceanographic and environmental data systems
  • ADCP, Seabird 19Plus, Sequoia, ADV, etc
  • Decision support systems and databasing (ESDAT, GIS)
  • Remote sensing, imaging & GIS 

Environmental modelling 

  • 1D, 2D and 3D hydrodynamic
  • Experts in RMA, MIKE, DELFT
  • Near-field, far-field, particle tracking & random walk models
  • Water quality: Destratification, Aqueous Chemistry, PHREEQC
  • Pollutant source identification and real time capabilities 

Dye tracer

Typical projects 

Sydney deepwater outfalls 

  • Technical management
  • Oceanographic processes
  • Numerical & physical modelling
  • Remote sensing and databasing
  • Marine sediment sampling 

Yamba-Iluka ebb tide release 

  • Data analysis and field data programs
  • Hydrodynamic modelling
  • Near & far field dispersion modelling
  • Sediment transport
  • Sensitive receiver assessment
  • Community consultation 

Wetland restoration: Shoalhaven, Newcastle, Yarrahapinni, Anna Bay 

  • GIS mapping techniquesIron floc
  • Groundwater/surface water connections
  • Ion association modelling
  • Predictive coupled transport modelling
  • Data analysis and monitoring
  • ‘Smart’ infrastructure
  • Comprehensive project management 
Brooklyn Estuary process study 
  • Interdisciplinary project management
  • Water and sediment quality
  • Databasing and data collection
  • Fish, flora, fauna
  • Anthropogenic impact
  • Numerical modelling 
 A complete list of relevant projects undertaken can be supplied upon request.