Capability Statement

Securing adequate water supplies to meet the needs of ever-growing coastal populations is a major challenge faced by water authorities across the world. The conventional approaches to dealing with this challenge are framed around the longstanding notion, ‘shortage of water’, which by its very nature limits the scope for exploring the feasibility of alternative options and innovative solutions.

Research undertaken at the University of Wollongong (UOW) over the past decade or so, has led to the development of a novel solution approach that shift the focus of the world’s water problem from “water shortage” to “water storage”. This solution approach involves an improved coastal reservoir (CR) design that harnesses flood water from sea, at a fraction of the cost of the desalination technologies currently being used. This improved design also addresses most of the limitations associated with the previous generation of CRs that have been adopted in several countries; for example, the Marina Barrage in Singapore, Plover Cove in Hong Kong and Sihwa Lake in South Korea.

Building on its pioneering work in this area and its reputation for ground-breaking research, UOW has taken a crucial step to expedite the development of CRs by setting up the world’s first-of-its kind Centre for Coastal Reservoir Research (CCRR). Through this ambitious initiative, UOW has been able to assemble a strong multidisciplinary research team with vast experience and reputation in all requisite areas, including: geotechnical and structural engineering; water quality and environmental engineering; systems engineering and risk analysis; and modelling and simulation. This has also meant that CCRR is now in a position to contribute to any future CR development efforts with the following capabilities.

CR Capabilities

Conceptual Development and Feasibility Studies

  • Site profiling and ranking (e.g. seabed, current/tidal/wave; salinity levels, flooding information)
  • Evaluation of ecological implications (impact on sea level rise, extreme storm events and tsunamis)
  • Sustainability assessment (social, environmental and economic aspects over the full life cycle)
  • Reservoir profiling and pre-feasibility (e.g. catchment information, water availability)
  • Proof-of-concept/preliminary design (e.g. water demand, reservoir size, safe yield; barrier type)

Detail Design and Analysis

  • Barrier design (geo-technical; structural engineering; material selection and testing)
  • Gate location and pumps selection, including the development of operations protocols
  • Identification and assessment of water treatment options
  • Evaluation of water transport options/reticulation systems

Water Quality Assessment and Treatment

  • Estimation of land use impact on water quality along river gradients
  • Site-specific assessment of estuarine water quality and treatment options
  • Monitoring of water quality and salinity levels and mitigation of contamination risks

Project Evaluation and Risk Assessment

  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Stakeholder mapping and analysis
  • Project evaluation and feasibility studies, including risk analysis
  • Benefit management and realisation plans

Modelling and Simulation

  • Geo-spatial mapping and modelling for site selection and ranking
  • Spatial modelling of water quality along river gradients and estuaries
  • Geo-technical and structural engineering modelling for barrier selection and construction
  • Hydrodynamics and salinity modelling of estuaries (2-D and 3-D circulation and mixing)
  • Economic modelling, financial analysis and sustainable functionality measurement

Coastal management - in collaboration with the UOW Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS)

  • Oceans law and policy (international frameworks, national and regional offshore arrangements)
  • Marine governance (planning, institutions and processes for spatial areas and sectoral interests)
  • Coastal zone management (ports, fisheries, reserves and protected areas)
  • Social impact assessments (amenities, environmental services, economic uses)


Last reviewed: 13 March, 2018