Water Research Laboratory Open Day provided a hands-on experience for the whole community.

The Water Research Laboratory (WRL) hosted a public Open Day in February where 750 visitors flocked to see the state-of-the-art facilities located at the University’s Northern Beaches Campus in Manly Vale.

Visitors toured labs and engaged in hands-on experiments and real-life simulations. Over 50 dedicated WRL students  and staff  ensured this event was a great experience for everyone who attended, infusing the day with their personal passion and enthusiasm for water engineering. 

WRL is a large-scale laboratory facility of UNSW’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. It is a world-leading fundamental and applied research organisation tackling the most challenging water problems faced by the world today. Spanning four hectares, it is home to cutting-edge facilities and equipment. Its personnel are experienced and creative problem solvers in their respective areas of research and industry. 

The recent Open Day saw the conclusion of a ten-month long series of events, celebrating WRL’s 60th anniversary. One of these key events was the Manly Dam Project - an arts-science partnership where eight contemporary artists from a variety of practices created new artwork inspired by place, history, water management and engineering. The artwork featured in an exhibition which ran at the nearby Manly Art Gallery & Museum for three months, and included a VIP event attended by UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs and other leaders from industry, government and the University.    

“When WRL marked its 50th anniversary ten years ago, we had a wonderful celebration, focused on our long list of achievements. A decade later when planning for our 60th anniversary, I personally wanted us to look forward and outward – towards where WRL should be aiming to go into the future. That was where the concept for the Manly Dam Project began”,commented Professor Ian Turner, Director of WRL.

“The Open Day was a community-focused event that enabled us water engineering researchers to engage and communicate with the broader community about what we do and how this impacts the lives of Australians.”

Looking ahead, WRL has ambitious plans for its next ten years. Exemplified by current drought, water scarcity and its future sustainable management are top priorities both in Australia and around the world. Populations and accompanying trade and infrastructure continue to expand rapidly along coastlines worldwide. New solutions to coastal planning, restoration and protection are top priorities here and internationally. These are some of the key research areas the team at WRL will investigate.