Our expertise

Illustration by Anna Blacka, UNSW Water Research Laboratory

WRL delivers world leading water engineering research that result in real positive impact on a global scale.

Our team successfully bridge the gap between industry and academia. Through our networks, partnerships and collaborations we are engaged with industry, government and the community.

Our expertise built up for over 60 years includes: 

Coastal engineering

WRL is considered the birth place of coastal engineering in Australia, comprising a great history of experience and current knowledge.

Physical modelling

The hydraulics laboratories at WRL are the largest and most comprehensive in Australia. WRL occupies 3.8 ha of land immediately downstream of Manly Dam, and has 4 fully equipped laboratories for research and specialist consulting studies.

Environmental engineering

Environmental engineering combines the resources of groups within the Water Research Laboratory to provide an integrated assessment of environmental impacts.


The award-winning Ecosystems Engineering group (EcoEng @ WRL) is a worldwide leader, with a twenty-year track record, in developing practical solutions for the successful restoration and functional recovery of damaged, contaminated or endangered ecosystems.

Blue Carbon

Blue Carbon is the carbon captured by the world's ocean and coastal ecosystems. Coastal Blue Carbon ecosystems, including mangrove forests, saltmarshes, and seagrass meadows, are highly effective at sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and locking it away for very long periods of time.

Wetland restoration

WRL scientists and engineers can provide a range of expert services to assess and restore both tidal and riverine wetlands. Our researchers understand the environmental issues behind the observable problems and have a track record of developing tailored, on-ground solutions to stimulate functional wetland recovery.

Civil engineering hydraulics

When hydraulic behaviour is crucial to the operations of large (or small) infrastructure, WRL can utilise its knowledge and experience, specialist hydraulic laboratories and instrumentation to provide robust and cost saving solutions.


WRL is an industry leader in the engineering and science of marine and riverine outfalls. Over the past 20 years WRL has been involved in numerous studies covering all aspects of outfalls including hydraulics, dilution, commissioning and field studies.


WRL has a team of hydrogeologists and environmental engineers who are highly regarded for groundwater problem solving. This team is recognised in Australia and internationally for expert groundwater services.

Hydrology and water resources

WRL have specialist expertise to provide solutions for critical water resource issues including the hydrology and quality of runoff in urban catchments, water budgeting, reservoir operations, environmental flows and the sedimentation, geomorphology, and flooding of rivers.

Offshore renewable energy

In the last 20 years, WRL has drawn on its long-standing experience in marine and coastal engineering to provide expert advice to the Australian Offshore Renewable Energy industry.


Our research

We pride ourselves on paving the way to discover and deliver new ideas, leading conversations and delivering solutions that have a positive impact, be it new technologies to monitor and quantify changing coastlines, or restoring wetlands to preserve wildlife and ecological communities.

Facilities & equipment

We are one of the only organisations in the Oceania region with large-scale laboratory spaces and expertise to provide commercial physical modelling services for our clients. 

Contact us

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