The aim of this research is to address imbalance between water supply, demand and security of supply due to the following:

  • increasing population growth and urbanisation
  • degradation and overexploitation of natural resources
  • climate change impacts.

Research areas

Decentralised & distributed systems

Understanding the role of decentralised systems in addressing the impacts of urbanisation, population growth and climate change on current water systems.

This includes exploring various approaches/systems for their harvesting potential for water conservation, water quality improvement and flood mitigation and decentralised wastewater treatment for local reuse.

The research will include undertaking hydraulic, hydrologic, economic and environmental assessment of urban water systems.

Green Infrastructure & Urban Heat Island Mitigation

A challenge for liveability and sustainability of cities is improvement of microclimate and Human Thermal Comfort (HTC) condition for the urban dwellers. Green Infrastructure (GI) is an interconnected network of green spaces that conserves natural ecosystem values and functions.

The infrastructure has been proven as the most effective strategy to moderate urban temperature by shading and evapotranspiration process. Research is undertaken into analyse the effect of shape, size and distribution of GI on microclimate and HTC.

Integrated urban water management & water sensitive urban design

Exploring the applications of integrated urban water management approaches for sustainable urban water services. This covers technical, economic, social, environmental, climate change, water demand, risk and reliability aspects. It includes green infrastructure.

The impact of these approaches and factors on water infrastructure and associated management for their long-term sustainable operation and maintenance will also be investigated.

The externalities and social aspects of integrated water management and water-sensitive urban-design approaches will be investigated in collaboration with other research groups at VU.

River Water Quality Modelling

Rivers can provide valuable supply of drinking water for humans, irrigation water to farmlands, water for hydropower and home for many aquatic ecosystems. The groups current research in river water quality modelling includes development and application river water quality indices.

Improving river water quality considering point and non-point sources of pollution.

Water Infrastructure & Asset Management

Researching ways to efficiently and cost-effectively upgrade Australia's aging water infrastructure. Our current research in water infrastructure and asset management includes identifying the key factors that are causing excessive leaks and bursts in Melbourne’s water supply network.

Analysing the impacts of climate change and urbanization on urban drainage systems, including impact of source management practices on septicity in sewerage pipe networks.

Analysing deterioration models for stormwater pipes and monitoring corrosion in water mains using in-situ sensors have also been researched into.

Water pollution
Water main break

Research projects

The following are the industry supported projects in this area:

  • Estimating the Economic Level of Leakage for Greater Western Water (Nitin Muttil; VU RISE project) – 2021–ongoing
  • Stormwater quality and quantity monitoring at Werribee funded by Melbourne Water ($70k) – current
  • Development of Intelligent Water Networks supported by Western Water* ($75k) – current
  • Climate Change Effects on Urban Drainage System in the City of Greater Shepparton, Victoria (Nitin Muttil; $5,604) – 2018–20
  • Developing a Leak Management Strategy for City West Water* - Problem Identification (Nitin Muttil; $32,461) – 2020–21
  • Effect of Green Infrastructure on Microclimate and Human Thermal Comfort (Anne Ng; $10,000) – 2020–current
  • Recovery of excess energy from City West Water* Network (Nitin Muttil; $54,390) – 2018–19

*City West Water and Western Water integrated in 2021 to form Greater Western Water.

Staff & students

 Read about our researchers, and access further information in the sections below.

Name Phone and email Research interests
Dr Nitin Muttil
+61 3 9919 4251
[email protected]
Hydrologic modelling, urban water management, urban drainage and flood control, water-sensitive urban design, climate change impact studies and hydroinformatics.
Dr Anne Ng
Deputy Leader
+61 3 9919 5507
[email protected]
River water quality, integrated urban water management, water infrastructure management, dendrohydrology and green infrastructure.
Dr Parvez Mahbub +61 3 9919 5964
[email protected]
Environmental engineering, Flow-based applications in analytical chemistry, Chemical engineering, Scalable reactor technology, Spectroscopic and electrochemical sensor technology
Dr Shobha Muthukumaran +61 3 9919 4859
[email protected]
Integrated urban water management, green infrastructure practices, membrane separation technologies, water and wastewater treatment and advanced oxidation processes.
Professor Chris Perera
Emeritus Professor
+61 3 9919 4729
[email protected]
Hydrology and water resources, climate impact studies, integrated urban water management, river water quality, and water asset management.
Associate Professor Ashok Sharma +61 3 9919 4519
[email protected]
Integrated urban water management, water-sensitive urban design, green infrastructure, decentralised water and wastewater systems, hydraulic design, optimisation and hydrological modelling.
Dr Muhammad Atiq Ur Rehman Tariq [email protected] Civil engineering, hydrology and water resources, smart cities and urban informatics, artificial intelligence.


The following Adjunct Researchers are associated with this research area:

  • Mr Dean Barnett Adjunct Research Fellow
  • Dr Dale Browne Adjunct Research Fellow
  • Dr Kein Gan Adjunct Professor
  • Dr Tony Ladson Adjunct Associate Professor
  • Mr Euan Nichol, Honorary Fellow

Associate Professor Atiq Tariq

Associate Professor Atiq Tariq completed his fully funded PhD from TU Delft, The Netherlands. He has vast teaching and research supervision experience in reputed universities across Europe, Asia and Australia. His research interests include hydroponics, water harvesting, and flood management. Key highlights from his career are as below:

  • He has served as an Academic Head (youngest) for more than 6 years. He played a key role in Pakistan’s membership in Washington Accord.
  • He is a pioneer in introducing water footprints and virtual water trade in the agriculture sectors of Australia.
  • He has delivered many keynote lectures and has published more than 10 publications as the 1st author in Q1-ranked journals (SCIMago ranking).
  • He also has served as a Guest editor in a Q1-ranked journal.
  • He has received the best conference, best journal, and editor’s choice awards for his research papers.
  • An article based on Dr Atiq’s expertise in flood management has appeared in World’s leading news agency “Reuters”.
  • As a consultant, Dr Atiq has executed mega projects in Australia and abroad.

The following PhD students are working in this area:

  • Fatma Balany
  • Frank Deans
  • Ngoc Cuong Nguyen
  • Santosh Kaini
  • Samira Rashetnia

Past students (graduated since 2009)

Name Thesis topic
Prasad Inamdar (PhD) Evaluation of potential stormwater opportunities and sites in an urban development
Sachindra Dhanapala Arachchige (PhD) Catchment level downscaling of hydroclimatic variables from general circulation model outputs.
Iwan Juwana (PhD) Development of a water sustainability index for West Java, Indonesia.
Nilantha Gamage (PhD) Use of remote sensing data for generation of streamflow time series.
Nepi Marleni Ni Nyoman (PhD) Impact of source management practices on septicity in sewerage pipe networks.
Shishutosh Barua (PhD) Drought assessment and forecasting using a non-linear aggregated drought index.
Sithranjan Shanmugasundaram (Masters) Statistical analysis to detect climate change and its implications on water resources.
Stephanie Ashbolt (PhD) Development of short-term optimal operating plans for water grids.
Walter Godoy (PhD) Multi-objective optimisation of water supply systems - a shared vision.

Partners, funders & collaborators

  • AusAid 
  • City of Melbourne
  • City of Greater Shepparton
  • Greater Western Water
  • Melbourne Water
  • WaterRA
  • Wyndham City Council

Contact us

Dr Nitin Muttil
Phone: +61 3 9919 4251
Email: [email protected]