New research report reveals pathway to keeping Adelaide’s liveable city status

Adelaide could soon become a much harsher place to live as extreme temperature events become more common, alongside more frequent and intense floods and droughts. Increasing urbanisation is also reducing the amount of vegetation in the landscape and decreasing water retention. 

Water management is at the heart of these issues in Adelaide. We need water to support the plants that will help keep the city cool, mitigate climate change and improve liveability. Healthy waterways are also essential for our wellbeing and resilience. 

A report released by the Goyder Institute for Water Research this week outlines key actions and policy recommendations for urban water management that will help address the impact of rising urbanisation and climate change.

Current Goyder Institute Management Board member and Director of Water Security, Policy and Planning in the South Australian Department for Environment and Water, Mr Dan Jordan, welcomed the release of the new research report.

Building on many significant contributions over more than a decade, this body of research on urban water management is another example of the Goyder Institute delivering research insights that have the potential to significantly influence water-related public policy, as our towns and cities grapple with major challenges around urbanisation and climate change,” said Mr Jordan.

This Goyder Institute research will be particularly useful for informing the current work of the Stormwater Expert Panel, which was commissioned in response to key recommendations in the 2022 Urban Water Directions Statement, as well as efforts to deliver against the State Government’s Integrated Water Management election commitment.”

The Goyder Institute for Water Research brought together a transdisciplinary and multi-organisational team of water experts to help tackle these challenges and identify urban water management opportunities to help secure Adelaide’s future. 

Led by Dr Baden Myers (UniSA), the project team focused on finding the best ways to restore Adelaide’s urban ecology and waterways and explored new governance, funding and policy options. 

It was important that we take a multidisciplinary approach on this project. We brought together civil engineers, water scientists, ecologists and social scientists from the University of South Australia, Adelaide University, Flinders University, Monash University and CSIRO to review our urban water management policy and technical needs,” said Dr Baden Myers, University of South Australia.  

Our recommendations were then reviewed by engineers, scientists and policy-makers in state government, local government, SA Water, and industry bodies to make sure they were realistic and achievable.” 

We’re confident our final recommendations reflect the technical and policy needs to tackle urban water management challenges into the future,” Dr Myers said.

The team found that healthy waterways (blue spaces) and urban vegetation (green spaces) could best be supported by: 

  • ‘smart,’ integrated ‘blue–green’ catchment management plans. These should be designed to retain water in the landscape, prevent and delay stormwater from moving into receiving waters, and improve waterway and coastal environment condition
  • a connected and integrated water harvesting and reuse scheme across Adelaide
  • a program to research, monitor, and evaluate the effectiveness of on-ground actions to increase urban vegetation, limit runoff, and reduce the levels of fine sediments travelling to Adelaide’s coastline
  • a robust monitoring and compliance program in new and existing developments, with a particular focus on how water quality will affect receiving waters. 

The project team also reviewed national and international urban water management models and prepared costs–benefit analyses for five possible new governance options, including associated legislative changes. 

Among the recommendations are updates to the Water Industry Act 2012 and other legislation that would enable new governance arrangements to manage stormwater for flood control and as an integrated water resource for achieving economic, cultural, environmental and social outcomes. 

Proposed amendments to planning laws would also make sure that the true value of stormwater management is realised and that all new developments have appropriate regard for its value. 

The Institute has previously provided advice to the Department of Environment and Water (DEW) which has informed the 2022 Urban Water Directions Statement. Now, this new report is now being considered by a range of stakeholders including those involved in making recommendations to government on future funding and governance arrangements for stormwater.  

You can read the project team’s findings in full here or contact the Goyder Institute for Water Research for more information. 

Goyder Institute project team

Baden Myers (Surface water hydrology, UniSA); Mellissa Bradley (Integrated water management, Water Sensitive SA); Chris Chesterfield (Governance, Monash University); Lin Crase (Economics, UniSA), Tanya Doody (Ecology, CSIRO), Howard Fallowfield (Water treatment, Flinders University), Huade Guan (Urban cooling, Flinders University), Martin Lambert (Surface water hydrology, The University of Adelaide), Tim Muster (Water technologies, CSIRO), Bruce Naumann (Stormwater harvesting and recycling, City of Salisbury), Melissa Jane Nursey-Bray (Social science, The University of Adelaide), Margaret Shanafield (Groundwater, Flinders University), Rachel Barratt (Policy and Planning, Jacobs)  

Stakeholder reference group

A stakeholder reference group also reviewed and provided input into the report, with representatives from the South Australian Department for Environment and Water, SA Water Corporation, Green Adelaide, the Local Government Association of South Australia, Stormwater South Australia, the City of Marion, the South Australian Environment Protection Authority and the South Australian Stormwater Management Authority.

Tags: Adelaide Climate Action Climate Change Climate Resilience Economic Development Environmental Water Goyder Institute News Stormwater Urban Water Water for Cities and People Water Industry News Water Sensitive Urban Design Wetlands

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Chris Wright

Manager Water Science, DEW

Chris Wright holds significant experience in public sector senior leadership, having led policy, scientific and operational business units over the last twelve years in both State and Commonwealth government agencies. Chris has excellent experiences in leading policy and strategy formulation. He is skilled in building and maintaining networks across the public and private sectors to facilitate business delivery; leading and negotiating with others to achieve outcomes; and in bridging the science-policy gap, drawing on earlier roles in geospatial information systems (GIS) consulting. Chris’s formal qualifications include a Bachelor of Social Science, a Masters of Spatial Information Science and graduation from the AICD Company Directors course in 2019.

Dr Ilka Wallis

Senior Lecturer, Flinders University

Dr Ilka Wallis is a hydrogeologist with areas of expertise in quantitative hydrogeology and geochemistry. Ilka focuses on the development of reactive geochemical transport models which integrate fundamental processes that are normally studied in isolation (hydrogeological, mineralogical, geochemical and biochemical).

Ilka is also an Adjunct Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Manitoba, Canada since 2017.

Peter Goonan

Environmental Science Branch, EPA

Peter Goonan is the Principal Aquatic Biologist in the Environmental Science Branch of the EPA. He has over 30 years’ experience monitoring the condition of aquatic ecosystems in SA and assessing the environmental effects caused by discharges, deposits and contaminants entering inland and coastal waters. He specialises in aquatic invertebrate identification and their responses to contaminants and water quality stressors. He also provides expert professional advice relating to water quality risks, regulation, policy, and strategic directions, and represents the EPA as an expert witness in court.

Dr Paul Monis

Manager, Research Stakeholders and Planning, SA Water

Dr Paul Monis is a technical expert within SA Water’s Business Services group, which provides scientific expertise to support the delivery of water and wastewater services to SA Water’s customers. He has specialist expertise in the areas of biotechnology and microbiology, with almost 20 years’ experience applying DNA-based and other technologies to address water quality challenges posed by microorganisms, especially enteric pathogens. Dr Monis also holds title of Adjunct Associate Professor at Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and UniSA.

Jennie Fluin

Principal Advisor Research Partnerships, DEW

Jennie’s role in the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) allows her to foster and strengthen opportunities for researchers to better connect with government to enable evidence-based decision making. Jennie has extensive experience working in both universities and government, allowing her to bridge the divide between the two sectors. She is focused on connecting natural resource researchers with natural resource decision makers, and facilitating fit for purpose partnerships.

Dr Tanya Doody

Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO

Dr Tanya Doody is a Principal Research Scientist working on high impact spatial eco-hydrological projects within CSIRO’s Land and Water Business Unit. Dr Doody leads the Managing Water Ecosystems Group, based in Adelaide, Albury and Canberra and has significant experience in quantifying the water requirements of vegetation and at times, their impact on water resources. This involves ecophysiological field-based research to underpin remote sensing tools to scale regionally to improve our understanding of the effect of flood regimes on the health of water-dependent ecosystems on the Murray-Darling Basin floodplains. Additional research includes investigating the ecological response of vegetation to water availability and environmental water to inform integrated basin water planning and management.

Professor Lin Crase

Dean of Programs (Accounting & Finance), UniSA

Professor Lin Crase is Professor of Economics and Dean of Programs (Accounting & Finance) at UniSA. He joined UniSA in February 2016 as Head of School of Commerce. Prior to commencing at UniSA, Lin was Professor and Director of the Centre for Water Policy and Management at La Trobe University.

Lin’s research has focused on applied economics in the context of water. He has analysed water markets and the property rights that attend them, water pricing and numerous applications of water policy. Whilst his expertise includes the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, he has also worked on projects in south Asia, Japan and Europe. Lin has published over 100 journal articles, numerous book chapters, four books and a range of other papers and opinion pieces.

Professor Justin Brookes

Director, Water Research Centre, University of Adelaide

Justin has broad research interests in limnology and water treatment with a primary focus on coupling between hydrodynamics, biology and water quality contaminants such as cyanobacteria and pathogens. He is a founding member of the management committee of the IWA Specialist Group on Lake and Reservoir Management and member of the Steering Committee for the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network.

Justin has a PhD and a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours from the University of Adelaide.

Daniel Flaherty


Daniel Flaherty is the Accountant for the Goyder Institute for Water Research.

Daniel has extensive experience in higher education having worked in senior financial management roles at the University of South Australia, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide over the past 26 years. Daniel has also been a Board Director on a number of university related entities. Prior to that, Daniel has worked in a range of agencies in the Commonwealth and State Governments.

Daniel is a Fellow of CPA Australia and has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Adelaide.

Dr Alec Rolston

Interim Director

Alec Rolston joined the Institute in 2021 as Research Program Manager of the Goyder Institute’s research projects in the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin program. He has extensive experience in integrated water resource management, integrated catchment management, drinking water source protection and wetland ecology, conservation and management across Europe and Australia.

Alec holds a PhD from the National University of Ireland Maynooth and has worked with An Fóram Uisce|The Water Forum and the Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland as well as the MANTEL Innovative Training Network across Europe.

Alec spent his early career in Adelaide working with Flinders University through the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMM) Ecology Research Cluster and within the Department for Environment and Water.

Daniel Pierce

Research and Development Officer

Daniel Pierce has managed research projects at the Goyder Institute for Water Research since November 2017 under both the second and third terms of the Institute.

Daniel brings experience in project management and knowledge transfer and application from 4 years working as a Senior Hydrogeologist in the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) in South Australia and from 13 years of private sector work in environmental management, science and engineering in Australia and the South Pacific. His work with DEW has included providing technical advice to the development and revision of Water Allocation Plans around South Australia in collaboration with researchers and policy makers, and managing a team of groundwater modellers and hydrogeologists involved in an assortment of water resource management issues.

Daniel has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons, Environmental) and a Bachelor of Science (Geography) from the University of Western Australia.

Professor Enzo Lombi

Dean of Research, UniSA STEM

Professor Lombi’s main contributions to environmental research cover various aspects of contaminant risk assessment, biogeochemistry, ecotoxicology and waste management. Furthermore, the methodological development he has pursued in his research has provided the basis for collaborative efforts in a variety of research areas ranging from soil fertility and plant physiology to human health issues related to contaminant uptake via occupational exposure and diet. In the last few years he has been increasingly focusing on the transformation and toxicity of manufactured nanomaterials in the environment.

Dr Carmel Pollino

Research Director Land and Water, CSIRO

Dr Carmel Pollino is a Research Director for Land and Water at CSIRO. She has 20 years of experience working on water issues in Australia and throughout Asia. Carmel has degrees in science and environmental law and works across the science and policy interface. Significant areas of research in Environmental Flows, Hydrology, Ecology and Integrated River Basin Planning. Carmel is the lead and also a contributor to global working groups on water and has published widely in this domain.

Professor Bronwyn Gillanders

Head of School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide

Professor Bronwyn Gillanders is interim Head of School of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide. Prof Gillanders completed her BSc at the University of Canterbury, MSc at the University of Otago and her PhD at the University of Sydney. She has a research background in environmental science focused predominantly on freshwater and marine ecology.

Her research interests include integrated marine management; coastal carbon opportunities; multiple use activities and cumulative impact assessment; biology, ecology and fisheries of cephalopods; stocking and provenance of fish; plastics in the marine environment including in seafood; use of fish bones (and other calcified structures) for assessing ecological and environmental change. She has trained and mentored ~70 Honours and Higher Degree Research students and shaped the future of 1000s of students through her undergraduate teaching. She is passionate about encouraging capable women to enter and remain in science careers.

Dan Jordan

Director, Water Security, Policy and Planning, Department for Environment and Water (DEW)

Dan Jordan is the Director, Water Security, Policy and Planning, Department for Environment and Water (DEW). Dan is also the Basin Officials Committee Alternate Member for South Australia.

Professor Okke Batelaan

Dean, School of the Environment, Flinders University

Professor Okke Batelaan is a graduate of the Free University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (MSc – Hydrogeology) and of the Free University Brussels, Belgium (PhD – Engineering). He worked for more than 20 years at the Free University Brussels and also led the hydrogeology group at the KU Leuven, Belgium since 2006. He was chairman of the Interuniversity Programme in Water Resources Engineering.

Since 2012 Okke Batelaan is Strategic Professor in Hydrogeology and currently Dean of the School of the Environment, Flinders University. Okke has broad experience in teaching groundwater hydrology, groundwater modelling, GIS and remote sensing for hydrological applications. He was supervisor of more than 140 MSc and 25 PhD students. He has extensive research experience and a publication record in shallow groundwater hydrology and modeling, recharge-discharge estimation and modeling, urban hydrology and distributed modelling, ecohydrology and impacts of land use and climate change on groundwater systems. He coordinated and participated in a large number of projects in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and Australia. He is editor-in-chief of Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies and of MDPI-Hydrology.