2023 RTP round - Water Quality and its effects on flora and fauna in urban waterways - PhD

Curtin University

Perth WA, Australia 🇦🇺

Status: Open

Applications open: 8/07/2022
Applications close: 18/08/2022View printable version [.pdf]

About this scholarship

Description/Applicant information

The rapid development of urban and suburban areas has posed threats to surface water and groundwater degradation especially from stormwater runoff. The increase of impermeable surfaces limits the natural infiltration of storm water and increases the risk of urban and suburban floods. The urban and suburban runoff waters accumulated from roadside and the house lawns and adjacent areas carry significant loads of pollutants, including heavy metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides, bacteria and nutrients. These pollutants are likely to be harmful to the environment including aquatic biota and may also be a threat to human health at high concentrations.

This project will be collaborated with the City of Kalamunda in Western Australia and will consider this city as the study area. Roads and public areas in the City collect contaminants, which are typically washed off during storm events. Typical contributors to pollutants in runoff include vehicular traffic, industries, garden maintenance and fertilisers, animal manure, eroded sediments and vegetative litter. The major non-point source pollutants include litter and sediments, nutrients, heavy metals, oxygen demanding materials (e.g. leaves), toxic materials (e.g. pesticides), microorganisms, surfactants (e.g. detergents) and hydrocarbons (e.g. asphalt and petrol). The urban water quality have a significant impact on the flora and fauna of local waterways. This project will first perform the detailed literature review on the catchment hydrology, water quality of stormwater / surface water / groundwater and collect the information on the federal, state and local level on the waterways that relates to flora and fauna habitats in the urban waterways. Next field work will consist of, for each of the defined subcatchments (Bickley Brook, Helena Pipehead, Lower Helena, Perth Airport North, Perth Airport South and Yule Brook): identify the sampling points and collect the water samples for different water quality parameters. In addition, the first flush stormwater samples will be also collected during the rain events and the surface water from the water ways will be collected at the same time. Similarly groundwater sampling will be done in regular interval and the same water quality parameters will be analysed. Soil samples will be collected from the site of different sub-catchments of waterways and laboratory tests will be performed to determine the appropriate soil parameters for stormwater infiltration. These water quality parameters will be correlated with the local flora and fauna for their survival, breeding and growth. Investigation will be carried out to identify the community values in the management of water quality impacts to flora and fauna, and arrange community engagement surveys where needed to inform the study. Finally ecosystem health indicators will be derived (such as Physico-chemical indicators, Biological indicators, Habitat indicators and Flow indicators) which will be indexed for a water sensitive urban design for developing a sustainable echo city. 

An Internship opportunity may also be available with this project.Student type

  • Future Students


  • Faculty of Science & Engineering
    • Science courses
    • Engineering courses
    • Western Australian School of Mines (WASM)

Course type

  • Higher Degree by Research


  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa

Scholarship base

  • Merit Based


The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 – $70,000 p.a.

Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships, valued at $28,854 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years, are determined via a competitive selection process. Applicants will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2022. 

For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details

Maximum number awarded

1Eligible courses

All applicable HDR coursesEligibility criteria

This project is for a potential PhD applicant with BEng (First class honours) degree in civil engineering or Master’s Degree in water/environmental engineering from a reputed university who has research experiences and publications in water/environmental engineering. 

English language IELTS level of 6.5 or equivalent TOEFL Score is required. 

Application process

If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should contact the Project Lead (listed below in the enquires section) via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2023


To enquire about this project opportunity that includes a scholarship application, contact the Project lead, Associate Professor Faisal Anwar via the EOI form above.