Dr Kefeng Zhang and Dr Veljko Prodanovic lead the activities of the research group Water Green-Urban-Management (WaterGUM) in the Water Research Centre at UNSW. Together with their postgraduate students (4 PhD students, 1 MPhil), they are actively working in the area of green technologies to solve urban water issues through a sustainable approach.

Their latest research project (DP220103833) will investigate passive plant-soil-based systems (i.e., the biofilters) for cost-effective removal of nitrogen from a range of polluted water sources , through better understanding and utilising of Simultaneous Nitrification, Anammox and Denitrification (SNAD) processes within biofilters.

Traditional urban wastewater treatment is energy and resource demanding. By combining principles of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) with advanced pollutant removal processes, the research team will create the necessary knowledge to underpin development of novel sustainable urban water treatment systems. Laboratory mesocosm studies will be setup at Samuels Building glasshouse, Kensington Campus, to investigate the relatively under-explored anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) process in biofilters for a range of polluted waters (such as pre-treated wastewater, greywater, and stormwater), as well as the effect of the water-soil-plant nexus and operational conditions on SNAD processes.

The Discovery project will open a potential for new technological advancements in urban water management, while simultaneously providing benefits to the environment and community through urban greening and waterway protection.

Congratulations to all involved for this outstanding achievement!

DP220103833 Investigators: Professor Ana Deletic; Associate Professor David McCarthy; Dr Kefeng Zhang; Dr Veljko Prodanovic; Professor Perran Cook; Professor Ashantha Goonetilleke

The grant is administered by Queensland University of Technology :  $405,000

About our Researchers 


Dr Kefeng Zhang is a Senior Lecturer / ARC DECRA fellow in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering's Water Research Centre (WRC). 

Dr Zhang’s research interest is to advance the knowledge relating to green technologies for sustainable urban water management. He is striving to under the pollution and risks associated with urban waters (in particular stormwater), and then develop and advance the green technologies for managing the pollution and risks (for safe discharge or reuse). Over the past few years, Kefeng has been involved in a number of national and international projects, with total funding of over AUD 2.5 million. He also lectures UNSW mater course on the topic of stormwater quality and green technologies (CVEN9611).

Dr Zhang is now working on an ARC DECRA project which aims to develop a framework that contains viable procedures to quantify, control and monitor the health risks associated with stormwater harvesting using Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) systems (i.e., natural-based solutions). It will generate new knowledge regarding the real time control and monitoring of WSUD, thus truly advancing the WUSD technology as emerging urban green infrastructure for reliable stormwater harvesting.

Dr Zhang is currently leading a cross-university research project funded by Water Research Australia (WaterRA) to conduct a detailed review of stormwater quality, treatment technologies and risk mitigation for stormwater harvesting (in collaboration with many WaterRA partners, e.g., Melbourne Water, Sydney Water, Stormwater Australia, Water Corporation, Yarra Valley Water, Wannon Water). This is expected to support the development of evidence-based stormwater recycling guidelines, and consequently advance the uptake of stormwater harvesting for supplementing water supply.

Through his research, Dr Zhang tries to promote the use of green technologies for sustainable urban water management among cities across the world. This is done not just through technology development but also via tackling relevant social-technical challenges (using a multidisciplinary approach) during the technology implementation, e.g., considering aspects of human wellbeing, policy, governance, etc.

Dr Zhang is also actively working among the international research community, through editing / guest-editing of journals, organisation of international conferences, invited talks in local and international conferences, seminars, review of scientific papers etc.

Dr Veljko Prodanovic is a Senior Research Associate at UNSW’s Water Research Centre.

Veljko’s research focus is on development, testing and modelling of sustainable water management solutions (WSUDs) for urban water pollution management (stormwater, greywater, wastewater). Veljko was and is involved in the development of a number of vegetated biofiltration technologies from rain gardens to green walls, focusing on the interdisciplinary challenges in delivering green sustainable urban water infrastructures capable of treating various sources of wastewater (most notably greywater and stormwater). The work on developing green walls for greywater treatment (one of a kind at time) has earned Veljko international recognition in the field of sustainable engineering, with invited talks, seminars, and involvement in a number of prestigious international projects (QNRF, KAUST, EU Horizon 2020, etc.). 

In addition to technology development, Veljko has developed his skills in urban water hydrology and water quality modelling. He is working on and managing funded ARC Linkage Project on catchment scale pollution modelling and future scenario prediction, which helped him form strong local connections to Melbourne Water and Victorian EPA, as well as LGA partners (Knox CC). This work got him invited to write join publications with University of Melbourne and Monash University, as well as invited talks and contributions to domestic and international grants (India and Israel/US). Furthermore, Veljko was a runner-up for prestigious Paul Harremous communication award at 2021 International Conference for Urban Drainage (ICUD), presenting on the novel FUSS model for prediction of future pollution levels in the urban catchment.     

Veljko is continuously striving to find innovative ways of utilising his diverse set of skills to improve performance of these systems and engage with stakeholders, communicating new knowledge. Recently, he has been strong advocate for public engagement around WSUD infrastructure, exploring social indicators for enhanced public ownership of community green water treatment systems. With couple of research papers in this area and new Sydney Water Community grant, he is working with UNSW Humanities & Languages group and Dr Marilu Melo Zurita on promoting sustainable engineering and understanding water governance.   

Aside from his research projects, Veljko is also passionate about teaching, being involved in student mentoring and tutoring at UNSW’s School of Civil & Environmental Engineering. as well as lecturing (CVEN9611 Urban hydrology).Veljko is a scientific reviewer to many top journals, e.g., Water Research, Science of Total Environment, Building and Environment, Ecological Engineering, and others.