The Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub is an exciting new venture between UNSW and Charles Sturt University, along with industrial and community partners including indigenous groups. The Hub aims to provide innovative eco-hydraulic solutions to improve ecological conditions and fish migration in rivers. 

The partnership will help establish long-term collaborations between metropolitan and regional educational, research and industry leaders to help tackle pressing environmental challenges facing regional Australia including indigenous communities.

As part of the Regional Research Collaboration Program of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub was funded with $3.6 million over 3 years. The hub will be led by Charles Sturt University’s Institute for Land, Water and Society with a strong team of aquatic ecologists under the directorship of Professor Lee Baumgartner.

UNSW, with its strong reputation for excellence in water-related research, will bolster the hub with its skills in water, engineering, aquatic ecology, water management and eco-hydraulics. UNSW researchers from the Schools of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Civil & Environmental Engineering have a unique chance to contribute to pressing issues in rural and regional Australia, including river connectivity and fish passage.

Within the Hub, UNSW researchers include Dr Stefan FelderAdjunct Associate Professor John Harris, Professor Richard KingsfordAdjunct Professor Bill Peirson (Lead), and Professor Iain Suthers, as well as PhD researchers Reilly Cox and Maryam Farzadkhoo. Their work will particularly focus on the development of the UNSW Tube Fishway, an innovative solution to lift fish across barriers of 2 to >100 m height to restore fish migrations. 

Current Tube Fishway collaborative research at the Water Research Laboratory and the Centre for Ecosystem Science, has focussed on optimising of fish attraction and transport, as well as automating the Tube Fishway’s operation. 

UNSW’s multi-disciplinary research team of fish biologists and water engineers is now ready to trial the Tube Fishway in field settings, and collaboration in this Hub will provide opportunities for installations in rural Australia including the Murray-Darling Basin.

UNSW Lead Bill Peirson sees the research hub as “a fantastic opportunity for our multi-disciplinary team at UNSW to move towards the deployment of the Tube Fishway in field applications to lift fish across weirs, dams and other barriers.”

Dr Stefan Felder from the Water Research Laboratory who is managing the research activities of the Tube Fishway project at WRL says: “We are excited to collaborate with our colleagues from Charles Sturt University and industrial partners on many further innovative eco-hydraulic projects that aim to improve water quality and river ecology, which is of paramount importance in times of accelerating climate change impacts on water resources worldwide.”