Water Engineering

The internationally recognised UNSW Water Research Centre (WRC) provides multidisciplinary research in water resources, engineering and management and the development of tools for environmental management and sustainability for improving the aquatic and atmospheric environments.

The WRC with its two research locations; WRC at the Kensington campus and the Water Research Laboratory (WRL) located at Manly Vale, operates as an externally funded research centre within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The WRC sits at the forefront of multidisciplinary research in water resources, engineering, management and the development of tools for environmental management and sustainability for improving the aquatic and atmospheric environments.

The WRL is a world-leading fundamental and applied research organisation tackling the most challenging water engineering problems faced by the world today. Our globally-esteemed laboratory spans four hectares and is home to state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and personnel comprising the most experienced and creative problem solvers in their respective areas of research and industry.

Australia’s current and future water needs requires an in-depth understanding and innovative approaches to all aspects of the water cycle; water use and re-use; aquatic environments; equity in access to safe drinking water; flooding; estuaries and the coast. The WRC makes substantial contributions to solving these big picture issues both, nationally and overseas with international partners.

Research themes

  • Atmospheric emissions, pollutants and odours
  • Biogeochemical processes
  • Civil engineering hydraulics
  • Coastal, ocean and estuarine engineering and management
  • Emerging and persistent contaminants (e.g. PFAS and microplastics)
  • Ecohydraulics
  • Environmental studies and climate change adaptation
  • Groundwater research and management
  • Humanitarian engineering
  • Hydroclimatology
  • Hydrology and water resources
  • Offshore renewable energy
  • Trace organics
  • Water and wastewater treatment
  • Water Green-Urban-Management (WaterGUM)

For further information visit our research centres:


Research facilities

WRC resources at Kensington and Manly Vale include a range of analytical, hydraulic and physical laboratories and support instrumentation which are applied to different research programs. These include:

Water Research Centre at Kensington

A complex of seven laboratories which include advanced instrumental analyses capabilities used in environmental research:

  • Water quality and analysis laboratory
  • Microbiology laboratory (PC2)
  • Water chemistry laboratory
  • Particle characterisation laboratory
  • Microplastics laboratory
  • Radiation laboratory
  • Odour laboratory


WRC staff also have access to, and expertise in, equipment at the UNSW Analytical Centre including the Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) Liquid Chromatography – Trace Organic Carbon Detector (LC-OCD).


The Water Research Laboratory (WRL) at Manly Vale

The Water Research Laboratory maintains state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation including:

  • Chemistry laboratory
  • Coastal engineering facilities comprising the 0.6, 1.0, 1.2 and 3 m wide wave flumes and the wave basin
  • Coastal imaging
  • Groundwater laboratory and field equipment
  • Hydraulic engineering facilities comprising the 0.6 and 0.9 m open channels and the spillway flume as well as recirculation system for large scale physical models
  • Specialised laboratory instrumentation and field equipment
  • Survey equipment including various UAVs/drones



Research staff and students

The Water Research Centre has experts in a range of water engineering disciplines comprising academics, research associates and PhD students while the Water Research Laboratory has in addition applied research experts in its project team. The full list of academics, applied project team members, postdoctoral research associates, visiting and adjunct researcher and professional staff is available here.