Focussed R&D 2009-2010

The Urban Systems project is delivering knowledge and tools to support integrated total water-cycle management in urban and rural/urban environments. Project deliverables will interface with eWater’s Source tools to enable seamless modelling of any greater urban region.

The team is researching several challenging aspects of urban water management to ensure the products are backed by science. Research is focussed on household-scale water use, ecological response of urban streams, solutions that optimally balance trade-offs between competing water management objectives, and water modelling and management risk and uncertainty.

A significant amount of the research and product development is being conducted within an exciting focus catchment trial in the ACT. Our decision support products are being applied to a broad range of water management problems to capture that research. The aim is to trial a whole-of-watersystem model allowing users to explore trade-offs between competing water management objectives. Another aim is to design water management options that best address multiple objectives. This sort of system-level decision support will better reflect the reality that water managers face on a daily basis.

Urban Developer

Under the leadership of Matthew Hardy, we released two prototypes of Urban Developer during the year. Network intelligence is embedded into the Urban Developer framework using linear programming, allowing applications involving complex mixes of centralised and decentralised harvesting and storage. The University of Newcastle team completed a case study involving a new township seeking to be self-sufficient in water supply.

Urban Developer was also trialled along a single 39-house street in Curtin, ACT. The aim was to accurately represent the physical system and water use patterns in the area. The model is intended for use in sensitivity analysis as well as optimisation. The three optimisation objectives relate to potable water consumption, total water consumption, and cost. The management options being explored were rain water tank use and size, and the use of water efficient appliances.

The trial was carried out by Jakin Ravalico and colleagues from the University of Adelaide.

Source Urban (formerly the Urban Regional Scale Model)

Source Urban allows towns and cities to be incorporated into water management models for river systems. It is built on the same platform of interoperable functionality as Source Catchments (formerly WaterCAST) and Source Rivers. It can be used to
(i) manage rural to urban water sharing and transfers,
(ii) plan infrastructure to secure water supplies in the face of climate variability and change, and
(iii) manage the impacts of cities on water quality entering coastal waters.

Source Urban is linked to Urban Developer, which operates at the lot to subdivision scale, to allow evaluation of options for decentralised supply and demand management. This work is being led by a multidisciplinary team including Matthew Hardy, Andrew Grant and Trevor Daniel.

Urban Systems products (music v4, Urban Developer and Source Urban)

These products allow urban water cycle modelling. They apply to a wide range of spatial scales, from lots to clusters to cities within catchments, and represent the water supply, stormwater, wastewater and groundwater components of the water cycle. They support the water sensitive design of suburbs and city/regions, and the medium to long term evaluation of different urban water management options in changing climate regimes. The project team is also creating a web information portal to support users in product application.

Over the year progress was made in critical elements of Source Urban:

  • Multiple supply paths modelling (led by the River Systems project under Rachel Gilmore and George Kuczera), allowing for efficient operations water supply from reservoirs;
  • Insight, allowing trade-offs between competing water management objectives to be evaluated;
  • Links to Urban Developer allowing for more sophisticated management of urban demand for water, and supplies, including the evaluation of the effects of
  • decentralised water supplies (stormwater or wastewater recycling, rainwater tanks).
  • Progress in adapting existing Source software for use in Urban situations.