Hydraulic functionality of vegetated stormwater systems within the road-right-of-way


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This joint PhD opportunity is no longer accepting applications until further notice.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) has been developed and deployed around the world to mitigate urban temperatures as well as the destruction of waterway ecosystems, targeting the runoff generated from road networks.

Common streetscape GSI technologies include bioretention systems, bioswales, soil-cells and stormwater receiving street trees.

GSI has evolved independently in Canada and Australia to reflect the unique climate, urban environments and anthropogenic stressors present in each region. Despite over three decades of practice, examples of underperforming GSI are routinely found in Melbourne and Toronto.

We predict that the common mechanisms for hydraulic failure in operational systems i) clogging associated with construction practices, ii) flow bypassing, i.e., stormwater misses the inlet or flows to an overflow outlet prematurely, iii) inlet blockages, due to undersized entrances or lack of maintenance, or iv) short-circuiting, i.e. water flows out of the system too quickly via an underdrain eliminating the opportunity for infiltration remain the same in both environments.

This PhD project forms part of a cluster collaboration between the University of Toronto and the University of Melbourne which aims to optimise green infrastructure to both protect urban waterways and cool urban communities.

Project goals

The goals of this project are to:

  1. Establish universal failure mechanisms of GSI and determine their impact on performance.
  2. Create GSI that are resilient and robust in a variety of urban environments.

Supervision team

*Click on the researcher's name above to learn more about their publication and grant successes.

Who we are looking for

We are seeking a PhD candidate with the following skills:

  • With a background in environmental engineering or environmental science, with demonstrated understanding of green infrastructure technologies, urban stormwater management, urban ecohydrology and/or plant ecophysiology
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Demonstrated time and project management skills
  • Demonstrated ability to write research reports or other publications to a publishable standard (even if not published to date)
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated organisational skills, time management and ability to work to priorities.
  • Demonstrated problem-solving abilities.
  • The ability to work independently and as a member of a team.

Further details

The PhD candidate will benefit from the combined expertise of the project supervisors, and the embedding into two research environments.

Dr Chris Szota and Professor Tim Fletcher at the University of Melbourne contribute their knowledge of GSI design and function, urban ecohydrology and plant ecophysiology. Associate Professor Jennifer Drake and Assistant Professor Scott MacIvor at the University of Toronto will also contribute their substantial experience with GSI technologies, as well as civil engineering and urban ecology.

This PhD project will be based at the University of Toronto with a minimum 12-month stay at the University of Melbourne.

The candidate will be enrolled in the PhD program at the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto, and in the PhD program at the School of Agriculture, Food and Ecosystem Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

This joint PhD opportunity is no longer accepting applications until further notice.

First published on 31 October 2021.

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