Adapting Groundwater Abstraction Management Using Mathematical Optimization Modeling - Water Corporation

Event Recap

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Groundwater is a vital water source in Perth, Western Australia, making up around 40% of our supply. In response to pressure on the groundwater resource to meet domestic, commercial, and environmental demands, the state’s regulator has legislated a series of amendments to groundwater license allocations and operating rules. Over time, this led to difficulty integrating highly saline groundwater sources and reduced the capability to respond to the dynamics of water production operations.

Traditional abstraction management processes, previously sufficient to achieve high abstraction yields in parallel with license and water quality compliance, were no longer adequate, demanding the development of a Water Industry innovation using analytical techniques. The approach combined advanced mathematical modeling and operational data acquisition to produce optimized groundwater abstraction schedules visualized through interactive graphics.

This work has captured over a decade of groundwater abstraction planning experience, converting a myriad of regulatory requirements and system constraints into thousands of mathematical equations. A key feature of the model is the inclusion of extensive user-defined variables and functional switches to facilitate flexibility in decision-making on the trade-offs between the competing objectives of abstraction, production, water quality performance, and compliance. The model simultaneously optimizes the volumetric split between unique groundwater treatment process streams, thereby minimizing chemical consumption and environmental footprint.

The model, developed in-house, is a mixed integer linear program with an additional non-linear module for simultaneous treatment and selection optimization. Gurobi helped solve this model versus other solvers, and the advanced heuristics, such as No Relaxation (NoRel), enable even more efficient problem-solving.

This presentation will describe the methodology and the model’s value in the applications of state-wide operational groundwater planning and scenario modeling for water source development and asset investment planning.



Phillip Meng is part of the Advanced Analytics team at Water Corporation in Western Australia, where he has been working on a wide array of interesting problems related to data, algorithms, and optimization since late 2018, discovering endless opportunities in the water industry and was awarded Young Water Professional 2022 in Western Australia. Prior to this, Phillip studied Mechanical Engineering, Physics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Western Australia, followed by a few years in data analytics and visualization in the mining industry.

Outside of work, Phillip loves playing cricket on warm summer days, highly competitive trivia nights, and habitually completing the New York Times daily crossword.


Toby Smith is a data scientist at the Water Corporation, working to develop data products that unlock value for the business. Toby studied Actuarial Science at Curtin University, Western Australia. His background in mathematics and statistics helps him develop skills and products, including advanced models and algorithms, mathematical optimization, data storytelling, and visualization.

Outside of work, Toby is interested in board games, hiking, and playing the violin.

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