WRL is at the frontier of water engineering research.

We pride ourselves on paving the way to discover and deliver new ideas, leading conversations and delivering solutions that have a positive impact, be it new technologies to monitor and quantify changing coastlines, or restoring wetlands to preserve wildlife and ecological communities.

A strategic international collaboration between university, industry, and government to address the considerable and growing pressure for solutions to observe and forecast accelerating shoreline erosion... More
Big Swamp
Winner of the 2015 Green Globe Award for Natural Environment Sustainability, this ongoing project has determined priority areas for wetland creation at Big Swamp, detailed innovative on-ground methods, modelled flooding impacts and undertaken large scale on-ground works to restore/create new wetlands... More
2016 Grantley Smith_Cars in floodwaters
In a world first, the flow vulnerability thresholds for two vehicles were tested at full scale in a specially configured tow tank at the UNSW Water Research Laboratory. .. More
Caseys Beach 1
Eurobodalla Shire Council engaged WRL in partnership with Aurecon to prepare the design for the Caseys Beach seawall upgrade; an 80 m length of the southern part of the seawall to ensure the stability of the foreshore and prevent undermining of the sewage pumping station... More
Clybucca monitoring
The Water Research Laboratory has been commissioned by the NSW North Coast Local Lands Services for hydrological monitoring at Clybucca; where the 2,500 ha site has been effected by acid sulfate soils and is prone to generating low-oxygen blackwater. Monitoring at Clybucca is required to establish baseline pre-rehabilitation conditions, as well as measure changes to the site following on-ground rehabilitation works to guide adaptive management and to minimise impacts to private landowners... More
2020 Mayes Swamp within the Clybucca Wetlands
The low-lying areas of Mayes Swamp and Doughboy Swamp on the Collombatti-Clybucca floodplain were historically natural backswamp wetlands. Significant drainage infrastructure constructed over the 20th century has promoted rapid drainage and lower surface and groundwater levels... More
2012 Cook Islands COPED
WRL undertook a project spanning 8 months in Avarua, the main town of Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Leading research to calculate the impact that more extreme storm events will have, including topographic and bathymetric data collection, hazard mapping, analysis of previous cyclone events and damage, analysis and predictions of wave processes and inundation during extreme events, and consideration of the effects of climate change on risk... More
A global shoreline mapping toolbox from publicly available satellite imagery... More
CoastSnap is a low-cost community beach monitoring technology that turns the smartphones found in most people’s pockets into powerful coastal monitoring devices. From humble beginnings on Sydney's Northern Beaches, WRL's CoastSnap stations can now be found worldwide!.. More
Cold water pollution - Stratification and mixing processes. Illustration by Anna Blacka UNSWWRL
Cold water pollution: What is it, and how can we limit its environmental impacts? WRL was engaged by NSW Fisheries to complete an extensive literature review and investigation into options to mitigate cold water pollution. .. More
Eurobodalla CH assessment 1
Eurobodalla Shire Council, located on the NSW south coast, commissioned WRL to prepare a coastal hazard assessment for 17 of their most vulnerable beaches. .. More
WRL recently supported a Hunter Water Corporation preliminary planning exercise looking at the sustainable effluent management and potential re-use of wastewater in the lower Hunter River catchment... More
Various hydrodynamic modelling studies have previously been undertaken for the Hunter Estuary. In many cases these projects repeat the work of previous studies and the project outcomes are isolated. The aim of this project is to provide a coordinated whole-of-government modelling approach using the best available data, produce consistent results, reduce uncertainty and be available for use by regulators, proponents and decision-makers... More
Tweed Shire Council engaged WRL in partnership with Haskoning Australia to prepare the design for a long-term terminal seawall. Following consideration of a range of preliminary seawall design types (including an alternative protection scheme with a groyne field); a composite seawall design was adopted... More
Manly beaches are susceptible to significant erosion during extreme storm events and have a long history of failure of their protection works. WRL was commissioned to undertake a comprehensive investigation to identify and quantify coastal risks... More
NSW coastal floodplain prioritisation project
This study provides floodplain and estuary managers with a better understanding of where poor water quality is originating from, as well as assessing the vulnerability of coastal floodplains to sea level rise over the next century... More
The Oceanlinx system converts the flow of air above an oscillating water column into electrical energy via a mechanical turbine. Wave flume tests were undertaken independently on two different types of designs in the 3 m wave flume at WRL... More
Wave testing of oyster bags
A novel technique has been proposed to encourage oyster reef restoration and reduce intertidal riverbank erosion. This innovation uses seeded oyster shells in coconut fibre bags. Deliberately utilising only organic materials, the fibres will naturally decay in time with the intention of leaving a new, intact oyster reef structure behind... More
Shenhua Australian Holdings submitted an Environmental Impact Statement to NSW regulators for the Watermark Coal Project. The proposal was for an open cut coal mine adjacent to the Mooki River. WRL was commissioned to provide independent review of the conceptual and numerical groundwater modelling... More
Bounty Bay is the primary landing point for access onto Pitcairn Island, with the coastline being extremely rugged for most parts. WRL was commissioned to undertake a physical modelling investigation of the proposed breakwater and Bounty Bay harbour... More
WRL undertook a detailed sea level rise and coastal hazard assessment for Moyne Shire Council, Victoria. This project is part of the Future Coasts Program, the purpose of which is to assist in better understanding and planning for the risks associated with sea level rise and storm surge... More
2020 Laura Montano in the Scrivener Dam model
WRL was commissioned by the National Capital Authority to construct and test a 1:40 scale physical model of Scrivener Dam in WRL’s hydraulics laboratory at Manly Vale... More
Tomago Wetland monitoring
In 2009 WRL installed a remote camera station which has been recording the progress of restoration at Tomago Wetlands. As of July 2022, WRL has upgraded this monitoring network to include real-time water level and salinity measurements... More
Winner of multiple environmental awards, this project has transformed the Tomago Wetland site from a large acidic landscape into a restored productive tidal wetland. The wetland has being created to compensate for migratory wading bird habitat destroyed elsewhere in the lower Hunter River estuary. .. More
UNSW Tube Fishway
Aiming to restore fish migration across dams and weirs, UNSW researchers are combining their expertise in fish ecology and hydraulic engineering to develop a Tube Fishway; which sets out to provide effective upstream fish passage through a tube using a conduit system... More
2020 Project Engineer Alice Harrison observes high concentrations of iron floc in Tuckean Swamp, Richmond River
Tuckean Swamp is a 6,000 hectare low-lying floodplain located on the Richmond River, which has been extensively drained since the 1880’s... More
Thirlmere Lakes
During the past decade, water levels in the Thirlmere Lakes have varied from full in 2016 to completely dry between October 2018 and February 2020. These variations have raised concerns with the local community and left them wondering; "Where has all the water gone in Thirlmere Lakes?".. More
Yeramba Lagoon restoration
Following on from years of reclamation, construction and poor land management have led to an accumulation of contaminants and poor tidal flushing at Yeramba Lagoon. WRL completed a detailed investigation of the lagoon condition and hydrology, to develop a restoration action plan. .. More