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Investigating better solutions for improved stormwater management

Sep 2, 2013
Author: Goyder Institute


Goyder Institute PhD Candidate, Michael Di Matteo, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering is currently investigating decision support methods to generate better solutions for the management of complex stormwater systems through the use of multipleobjective computer optimization guided by engineering intuition and judgment.

The research focuses on the adaptation of optimization techniques to intuitively generate and improve potential stormwater treatment systems using engineering judgment rules. The generated systems will be modelled using eWater MUSIC to test their performance.

System benefits include improving stormwater harvesting capacity, public acceptance scores, and water quality improvement for reuse or removing pollutants prior to discharge to the environment.

“Optimization, as class of decision support tools, includes a range of computer algorithms designed to intuitively ‘search’ for solutions to problems that are too complex to reliably solve using trial and error or deterministic methods,” says Professor Graeme Dandy, principal supervisor to the research and pioneer of optimization research in the Water Resources Management field.

“The major benefit of this research’s approach is the incorporation of engineering judgment, through decision rules, to intuitively ‘speed up’ the search so that less computer runtime is required to obtain optimal stormwater system solutions,” adds Professor Holger Maier, co-supervisor to the research and award-winning academic in the field of environmental systems management.

“The improved runtime makes the optimization method more attractive for practical design use, and the incorporation of engineering intuition and judgment fosters practitioner and stakeholder trust in the optimization process and the design solutions.”

Mr. Di Matteo suggests the impact of PhD research funding from the Goyder Institute and stakeholder feedback has been integral to the success of the research.

“Goyder Institute funding has provided me financial stability, and will enable me to attend important international conferences to disseminate the research ideas and gather invaluable feedback. Goyder Institute stakeholder feedback and feedback from local conferences has taken the research down paths I could not have foreseen.”

“The result is a better quality product that should assist stormwater managers to maximise benefits in the design and operation of stormwater harvesting and treatment systems.”

“By optimizing our systems we are likely to be able to make significant improvements in the cost and efficiency of how we manage stormwater compared to existing design techniques.

Michael Di Matteo is a PhD Candidate in the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering at the University of Adelaide.