Water Sciences

Appropriate biological and ecological assessment underpins sustainable infrastructure development and operation.

Our reliance on the ecosystem services provided by marine, freshwater and estuarine environments demands a proactive approach to our sustainable use of these assets.

Our water sciences services integrate scientific knowledge with  engineering and economic services to provide innovative, cost-effective  management solutions.

Our global team of environmental scientists provide support to clients in the following services:

  • Biological and habitat assessment and monitoring including; corals, seagrasses, mangroves, fish, megafauna, seabirds,  macroinvertebrates, infauna and wetlands
  • Environmental impact assessment and mitigation management
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Water quality and sediment assessments and monitoring
  • Catchment and waterway inventories, assessments and rehabilitation
  • Wetland monitoring and rehabilitation including constructed wetlands
  • Protected species management
  • Pest species detection and management
  • Environmental flows
  • Fish-way and turtle-way design and delivery
  • Assessment of groundwater dependent ecosystems
  • Biodiversity offsets
  • Ecosystem service analysis
  • Multi-criteria and cost-benefit analysis

To further understand our offering, contact:

Kerry Neil
Tel: +61 2 4979 9999
Email: Kerry Neil

Alaskan Way Viaduct & Seawall

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GHD has provided utility coordination and relocation design services throughout the two-mile long Alaskan Way Viaduct corridor in Seattle, Washington.

GHD is responsible for data quality review for all utility mapping throughout the corridor, performing research of the City of Seattle’s GIS and other utility records dating back to 1900, resolving discrepancies, performing field checks, and integrating survey data.

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Blue Lake Pumping Station Modifications, Mount Gambier

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The existing Blue Lake Pumping Station was commissioned in the early 1970s to be the primary supply of water to Mount Gambier and the surrounding districts in South Australia.

The pumping station is located on the northern side of the Blue Lake and consists of a floating pontoon structure (that pumps water to the bank of the Blue Lake), a secondary pumping station and anchor block (that pump the water up to the top of the crater), and associated infrastructure.

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Caspar Creek Labyrinth Weir Fish Passage Restoration

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CalFire and the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) worked cooperatively in a comprehensive paired watershed study at the Caspar Creek Experimental Watersheds in Jackson Demonstration State Forest, located in coastal Mendocino County, California. As part of the study, concrete dams equipped with precise flow measurement weirs were constructed providing an essential component of the scientific research. 

In 1964, a wooden fish ladder was built downstream of each weir. To avoid backwatering and submerging the measurement weir, which compromises its accuracy, tailwater levels were kept low requiring fish to leap over a two to three foot water surface drop at the weir. This precluded upstream passage of juvenile salmonids. During low-flow periods, leakage through the wooden fish ladder posed a significant risk of stranding and injury of juvenile salmonids.

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Catchment condition reporting for water quality

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The development of catchment condition reporting for water authorities assists in meeting reporting requirements of due diligence as set out in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines for risk management. The active management of catchments by water authorities is regarded to be an integral process for risk mitigation and the protection of source water.

Catchment condition reporting is considered to be a viable option for water authorities as it provides them with clear management objectives and detail to assist them with understanding and managing catchments.

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Macquarie Marshes & Gwydir Wetlands

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GHD was engaged by the Central West (CW) and Border Rivers-Gwydir (BRG) catchment management authorities (CMAs) to study the distribution and management of Lippia in the Macquarie Marshes & Gwydir Wetlands.

Our work increased the CMAs' understanding of Lippia (Phyla Canescens) throughout the area, including the rate of spread, outbreak triggers and control measure successes.

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Donner und Blitzen River fish screen & passage improvements

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GHD’s team worked to a tight schedule with federal and state agencies to design fish passages and screening facilities which improved the movement of native fish through 20 miles of river in the refuge. All facilities included photovoltaic arrays to provide energy in off-grid locations.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon provides sanctuary to a range of fish and wildlife species. GHD supported the US Fish & Wildlife Service on the Donner und Blitzen River fish passage and screening improvement project. “This project has improved movement of native fish through 20 miles of the Refuge and created opportunities to limit movement of non-native fish,” Malheur Deputy Project Leader Chad Kerges said. “This helps the Refuge to advance its goals of improving conditions for native fish, reducing invasive fish species, and the protection of Refuge water rights”.

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East Fork Irrigation District Habitat Enhancement Program

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GHD has completed a number of habitat enhancement and fish passage projects for the East Fork Irrigation District, including fish screen & sand trap repairs, diversion headworks replacement, and habitat enhancement.

The East Fork Irrigation District delivers water from the Hood River watershed for use on nearly 10,000 acres of high quality agricultural property. The watershed supports anadromous fish runs and the district manages its deliveries to support water quality, water conservation and sensitive species. GHD has worked with the district to undertake a series of habitat enhancement projects that provide multiple benefits to the district and its stakeholder partners:

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Endangered species given more living room

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Life has improved for the endangered fish species known as Redside Dace following the GHD-designed realignment of a 750 m river tributary to allow the construction of a new school and housing development in the city of Brampton, southern Ontario, Canada.

As part of the project, detailed geomorphic fieldwork and an electrofishing survey were carried out to inform the new design, a 758 m channel length natural corridor for the tributary, which is home to the Redside Dace and other fish species.

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Environmental flow study on Swan and Canning Rivers

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This project involved providing the basis to determine environmental flow objectives and associated river flow regimes for the waterways of the Swan Canning River system for the chapter entitled ‘Environmental Flows’ in the Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP).

GHD was commissioned by the Swan River Trust of Western Australia to analyse flow data from 12 representative stations throughout the WQIP area. In particular this involved the analysis of:

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Hydroelectric Power Generation Feasibility Study

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High demand for electricity and escalating costs for power production has increased the economic feasibility of building small scale hydroelectric facilities. The objective of this project was to reassess the finding of the previous studies regarding the feasibility of bypassing pressure regulating valves at Metropolitan Water District (MWD) service connections to Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) and instead use energy recovering hydroelectric turbines to produce energy while also regulating water pressure and flow.

Eighty-two turnouts, belonging to MWDOC Member Agencies, were evaluated based upon pre-determined evaluation criteria including:

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Lake Hamilton – Action plan for the improvement of water quality

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The Southern Grampians Shire Council (SGSC) engaged GHD to develop an Action Plan to improve water quality in Lake Hamilton in Australia. The overall aim of the Action Plan was to manage and prevent high levels of Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and Escherichia coli (E. coli).

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Measuring Micropollutants in Canberra’s Waterways – Using Passive Samplers

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Micropollutants are chemicals that include pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs, such as hormones) and disinfection by-products Micropollutants are of concern in the environment because even at very low levels they may affect organisms that live within the water ecosystem or those that consume the water (including humans). Micropollutants typically occur at very low concentrations and require special analytical methods to detect them. The challenge is to measure these low level pollutants using a novel method – passive sampling.

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Microbial Source Tracking Analysis

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Risk assessment of drinking water supplies for the likely occurrence of pathogenic organism has, for many years, focused on the detection of total coliforms, faecal (or thermotolerant) coliforms, and more recently E. coli as primary indicator of potential faecal contamination. However, outbreaks have occurred in the absence of these microbial indicators, highlighting the need for a multifaceted approach for risk assessment in drinking water supplies.

Microbial Source Tracking (MST) combines physical, chemical and biological diagnostic tests to characterize the level and source of potential faecal contamination. It provides the opportunity to add valuable information to investigations of water supplies and catchment areas.

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Mosquito Monitoring – Seaford Wetlands, Victoria

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Mosquito monitoring at Seaford Wetland commenced in early 2007 after concerns about the high abundance of mosquitoes had been raised by local residents and schools. Not only are mosquitoes a nuisance, but are troubling due to their ability to act as vectors for disease. GHD was commissioned by Melbourne Water to investigate the mosquito population at Seaford Wetlands in order to guide mosquito management.

Three mosquito-borne diseases are considered to be important by the Victorian Department of Health because of the disabling and severe symptoms they can cause.

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Murray River wetland rehabilitation

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Known as the Wetland Rehabilitation Project – Reinstating Wetting and Drying Regimes, this is one of the first projects of its type in Australia. The Lower Murray-Darling Catchment Management Authority engaged GHD to investigate, design and implement rehabilitation works to restore flood flows and fish passage to approximately 700ha of wetlands.

The team investigated wetland ecosystems to identify environmental values, then used this information to propose works and complementary land management activities aimed at achieving specific rehabilitation objectives for each wetland. The process involved flora, fauna and aquatic assessments, grazing pressure and land management assessments, indigenous cultural heritage assessments, and hydrologic-hydraulic simulation of proposed water regime options.

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Murrumbidgee Ecological Monitoring Program

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ACTEW Water introduced a water security program which involved building additional infrastructure to improve the future water supply of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Several components of this initiative involve water transfer via river abstraction, which requires a robust monitoring program that would detect any potential impacts that may eventuate from changes in flow.

The monitoring program design incorporated the conditions of approval from the EPA. The Murrumbidgee Ecological Monitoring Program (MEMP) adopts an adaptive management approach as well as a comprehensive field program which includes monitoring water quality, riparian vegetation, macroinvertebrate communities, fish and geomorphology surveys.

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EIS Ports of Hay

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The Ports Corporation of Queensland (PCQ) will be undertaking capital dredging at Port of Hay Point to increase water depth for ships departing the port.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been completed for the project in accordance with approved Terms of Reference (ToR) and the requirements of Commonwealth and state approval agencies. All development approvals have now been obtained for the project and dredging was approved to commence on 1 May 2006.

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Upgrade halts water erosion in ravine

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Following a one-in-100-year storm that hit the north of Toronto in Canada, Birkdale Ravine was severely eroded, causing significant damage to surrounding assets. As a result, The City of Toronto turned to GHD to provide an urgent response.

Our goal was to prevent further damage to the valley wall and loss of private property. We developed an urgent design solution to restore and stabilise the channel in the affected areas, including existing road crossing structure and private property.

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Washington Suburban Asset Management (Md, USA)

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The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) appointed GHD to lead the provision of asset management services in support of master planning and enterprise resource planning initiatives.

WSSC is the eighth largest water and wastewater utility in the USA, owning USD$12 billion of infrastructure assets. While instituting a range of short-term measures to combat the increasing incidence of water main breaks and leaks, WSSC is also taking a long-range strategic approach to address the growing challenge of ageing infrastructure.

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Waterproofing the South Stage 1

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GHD was engaged as the lead consultant for the detailed design of two wetlands, two detention basins, a 93 ML storage dam at Wilfred Taylor Reserve and approximately 18 km of non-potable water distribution network to harvest 850 ML per annum of stormwater runoff from the Christie Creek catchment.

The scope of the project includes:

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Kerry Neil

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Industry now faces the added pressure to manage the impact of development on the environment. Tight fiscal planning and rapid changes in measured impacts mean stakeholders must proactively seek out sustainable project solutions.

Kerry Neil is GHD's Service Line Leader for Water Sciences. A Principal Environmental Scientist with more than 12 years’ experience in aquatic environmental management, impact assessment, ecological aquatic research and publication, Kerry aims to support and develop the water science services that GHD provides, particularly focusing on delivering scientifically robust and defensible products to our clients. She has a strong collaborative record working with leading Australian and international scientists and her skills have provided her opportunity to work with various organisations including the IMO across numerous countries including Singapore, Brazil, Kenya and New Zealand in addition to Australia.

Our clients benefit from Kerry's drive to improve our ability to achieve sustainable use, protection and maintenance of the health of aquatic environmental assets in the face of increasing development and climatic pressures.

Position: Service Line Leader, Water Sciences
Tel: +61 7 33173187

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