Water industry experts dominate list of Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers

Posted 24 July 2017

InnovationSeveral water industry experts have been named among Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers in 2017 for projects ranging from overland flow modelling, to deep-water 3D imaging and use of green-blue walls for environmentally friendly wastewater treatment. 

GHD Surface Water Civil Engineer Dan Copelin was acknowledged in the Young Engineer category for his award-winning project on floodplain modelling for overland flows in large cities.

Copelin led the development of Virtual Pipes, an alternative to stormwater overland flow simulation that’s both cost-effective and time saving. The new approach, incorporated into TUFLOW software by BMT WBM, can be carried out quickly with less data requirements

“Overland flow flooding is a huge problem for lots of Australian cities. Previously, it’s been very difficult to understand the risks of overland flows on a broad scale. Our cities are so big and we haven’t been able to map large areas in detail all at once,” Copelin said. 

“A new approach was needed to help councils identify risks, test different options and improve land-use planning. Virtual Pipes allows us to break out of the restrictions of traditional modelling methods and lets us look at a whole city at a very good level of detail.

“It’s not intended to be a replacement to the full traditional approach, but with Virtual Pipes you get great insight into the nature of the risk across a larger area very fast.”

Copelin said being named on Engineers Australia’s list was a welcome acknowledgement of his and his team’s work. 

“It’s not often that you get recognition in this kind of work. You’re often very busy doing your work for clients, but being named on EA’s list definitely feels like a big achievement.”

GHD Principal Engineer Edgar Johnson is another water industry expert who made it onto Engineers Australia’s list for his work defining requirements for the in-situ calibration of large flow meters.

The result of more than three decades worth of research and testing, Johnson said it was important that technical, managerial and quality requirements had traceability to a national flow reference standard necessary for accurate and effective large-flow meter testing. 

“Non-revenue water is costing utilities and countries a considerable amount of money. Small metering errors on large meters have a big impact on those losses,” Johnson said. 

“In Australia there is a lack of accredited test facilities for large-diameter water meters. And we are not unique – it’s a problem throughout the world.”

Based on this methodology, Johnson facilitated the first use in Australia of laser doppler velocimetry for meter calibration, resulting in an approach to non-revenue water that gives clients confidence and is technically accurate. 

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