Hydrological and Ecological Engineering

Forrest Bilek. Hydro & /Ecological Eng

About Hydrological and Ecological Engineering

Hydrological and Ecological Engineering combines environmental and hydrological engineering to research the complex interface between water and the environment. The Hydrological and Ecological Engineering Group (HydroEco) is a team of faculty, post-doctoral fellows, PhD, Masters, and Bachelors (Honours) engineering students at the University of Canterbury. HydroEco members have conducted research worldwide on diverse yet interrelated topics such as hydrology, water resources, erosion control, integrated catchment management, stormwater, irrigation, flood prediction, water quality, mine drainage, engineered treatment wetlands and biofuels.

The larger HydroEco Research group meets twice a month to engage in valuable discussion. These lunchtime meetings allow everyone to touch base in an informal manner and bring the group up-to-date on various research projects, funding, publications and achievements of the group members. Undergraduate researchers join these meetings if they are engaged in our summer research. See the research page to discover more about the current projects.

The Hydrological and Ecological Engineering Group (HydroEco) regularly use the Environmental laboratory and Fluids laboratory for a variety of research projects.

In the fluids lab, for example, one of the largest hydraulic flumes in New Zealand (2 m wide by 30 m long) is used for sediment transport studies and another flume for landslide and erosion studies. Our environmental lab is superbly equipped with a particle size analyser, gas chromatograph, climate-controlled sub-rooms, automated logging capabilities, ion analyser, total organic carbon analyser and most other essential laboratory apparatus.

We also have a comprehensive selection of analyical equipment used for field research investigations including a rainfall simulator, topographical lazer scanner, weather station, automatic samplers, river surveyor and flow tracker and multiple portable instruments for measuring water quality and flow (including continuously).


The Department co-purchased an ICP-MS instrument. Inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is an advanced analytical technique for determining trace element concentrations in a wide range of water, sediment and biomass samples (following appropriate digestion) in a rapid timeframe. The technique provides rapid simultaneous multi-element measurements in combination with low detection limits (typically parts per trillion to parts per billion range). It complements the Stable Isotape Ratio Mass Spectrometer Facility in the Department of Geological Sciences.

GIS Laboratory

A dedicated GIS modelling laboratory is available for research as well as access to a range of other computer resources (including a Blue Gene super computer). The lab provides an interdisciplinary atmosphere where students can develop GIS applications and exchange knowledge on GIS modelling and spatial analysis. The GIS modelling laboratory equipment and facilities include: GPS's (Trimble GeoXH pro and others), GIS software (ArcGIS 9.3/ArcInfo, IDRISI, TransCad, GeoMedia, MapInfo, etc.), digitizing tablets (Summa sketch 12 inch), large plotter.

Academic Staff

All academic staff can be found in the Civil and Natural Resource Engineering contact us.


HydroEco collaborate with private industry, research institutes, local and regional authorities and non-profit organisations including:

  • Solid Energy New Zealand
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Otago Regional Council
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Aqualinc
  • NIWA
  • ESR
  • DP Consulting
  • PDP
  • Opus
  • MWH
  • Irrigation New Zealand
  • Conservation International
  • WWF (World Wildlife Fund)
  • CEPF (Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund)

For advice on Hydrological and Ecological Engineering

Tom Cochrane

Civil & Natural Resources Engineering E407

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