This project aims to better understand the impact of urban development in groundwater impacted environments, and will generate water sensitive solutions for such regions with high groundwater tables.

A call for Expressions of Interest was sent to CRCWSC participants in August 2017 for a project team to undertake the first 6 month, Scoping Phase (Stage 1).  This was awarded to an alliance of GHD and Water Technology with Nicholas Deeks taking on the role of Project Manager.

High groundwater has a significant impact on the urban development sector, stakeholders include developers, their consultants as well as state and local agencies.  Stakeholders will be engaged at different times in the project through a number of different forums including:

  • Expert Panel (EP) - An expert panel will be established to provide a high profile group of national and internationally renowned experts.  Their reputation, knowledge and expertise will be used to provide legitimacy to decisions made around contested areas of knowledge.
  • Project Steering Committee (PSC) - A Project Steering Committee has been established, consisting of appropriate representatives from industry and research. They will guide each stage of the project from design and delivery through to communication and adoption of the project outputs. The Committee members will also facilitate wider connections with other end users and industry groups.
  • Workshops to present the state of knowledge and or related to the case study. A workshop is planned for Stage 1 which will bring together national and international experts.
  • Structured interviews with experts in the field. Interviews are planned as part of the first stage and will be conducted across Australia to engage experts with knowledge on the development in high groundwater areas.
  • Committees for the research case study, focused on the suburb of Brabham, located in the City of Swan in Western Australia.


This project will be delivered in two stages

Stage 1 – Collation of existing knowledge and coordination of an Action Research Plan for Brabham - research case study, expected to run from August – December 2017

Stage 2 – Action learning, expected to commence in January 2018  through to June 2020, and potentially beyond

Four key objectives of stage 1:

  1. Collate and critically evaluate current state of knowledge locally (WA/Australia) and globally in design and implementation of urban (residential) development and water management approaches in areas with high and variable groundwater tables, focused on addressing the priorities outlined in Attachment 1.
  2. Identify contested or unknown design and implementation parameters and methodologies for such developments and urban water management systems that could be further investigated (at full scale) in follow-up project phase (Stage 2).
  3. Investigate alternative building/construction and land development methods and their performance in high-groundwater environments from a national and international perspective.
  4. Develop an action learning plan to address key knowledge gaps with a focus on application to inform water sensitive development at the Brabham case study site.

After objective 2 has been delivered by the project team, the Expert Panel will provide strategic guidance for objectives 3 and 4.

Work Packages


This work package will collate the current state of knowledge related to development in high groundwater environments and include:

  • preliminary best practice recommendations, supported by robust evidence where available,
  • recommendations of what is required to change practice and achieve water sensitive developments in high groundwater environments
  • outline of key knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to improve industry’s capacity to achieve water sensitive developments in high groundwater environments, with a focus on those gaps that need to be addressed to achieve a water sensitive exemplar development at Brabham.

This will build a common understanding amongst stakeholders as well as defining the contested areas which will be addressed through the Expert Panel.

This will follow on from the State of Knowledge report and will guide industry around water sensitive development in high groundwater environments, with a focus on ideas that can be applied or trialed at Brabham.

This will document ideas to be trialled and monitored at the Brabham site that will fill knowledge gaps and help resolve contested approaches to land development in high groundwater environments.

IRP5 Project Steering Committee (PSC)

  • Nicholas Deeks - GHD (Stage 1 Project Leader)
  • Peter Adkins - Department of Parks and Wildlife
  • Greg Claydon - Department of Water and Environmental Regulation
  • Richard Elliot - Housing Authority
  • Nathan Evans - City of Newcastle
  • Steven Gatti – SA Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources
  • David Horn - GHD
  • Tony McAlister - Water Technology
  • Jeremy Manning - City of Swan
  • Carlos Ocampo - The University of Western Australia
  • Carolyn  Oldham - The University of Western Australia
  • John Savell - Department of Communities (Housing)
  • Antonietta Torre - Department of Water
  • Leon van der Linde - City of Swan
Last updated: 24th Aug 2017