PhD graduate Dr Suranji Rathnayaka has been awarded the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities’ 2017 Eric Laurenson Medal for research enabling global shifts in the management of critical water pipe assets.

With over $500 billion worth of critical pipe assets in Australia, the UK, and US alone – and pipe failures a common occurrence – it is vital that water authorities have the ability to predict where and when major failures of critical pipes will occur, to better enable effective, long term preventative measures.

In his PhD research, Dr Rathnayaka made groundbreaking discoveries of mechanisms that cause large-diameter cast iron water pipes to fail, and developed associated field- and laboratory-validated models for pipe failure prediction and renewal.

A valuable member of Monash University’s pipeline research group for the last five years, Dr Rathnayaka has communicated his research findings through publications in top water science journals. His contributions within the Advanced Condition Assessment and Pipe Failure project were recognised both locally and internationally by a number of prestigious awards including 2016 Best Research Development Collaboration Award, from the Australian Business and Higher Education Round Table (B/HERT); the 2016 Project Innovation Award from the International Water Association; and the 2016 Research Innovation Award from the Australian Water Association and NSW Water Association.

The Eric Laurenson medal is awarded each year to a recently graduated PhD candidate from Monash University who has demonstrated excellence in areas such as the quality of their PhD thesis; potential of their research to seed change in practice in water science, engineering and management; and the recipient’s role in communicating their research findings to industry.