Liah Coggins

Dr, BE(Hons) BA PhD W.Aust.

  • The University of Western Australia (M051), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Liah is an environmental engineer with 10 years postgraduate experience collaborating with industry while completing her honours, PhD, and continuing into her current postdoctoral position. Her research is around the treatment of wastewater in waste stabilisation pond (also known as wastewater lagoons) assets, including sludge accumulation, microbial community characterisation, hydrodynamic modelling, and greenhouse gas emissions. Liah's work is strongly end-user focussed and based, and has involved strong links with industry partners, including five major Australian water utilities. 

Demonstrated outcomes of Liah's research include a remote control boat platform and software used for conducting bathymetry surveys of water bodies, and waste stabilisation ponds in particular (i.e., sludge mapping). Her research has also involved development and implementation of training plans for water utilities for the uptake of this technology for use on their assets. This technology has been successfully implemented at five major Australian water utilities, but has seen broader applicability to the water industry and in environmental management. 


  • Environmental engineering
  • Wastewater engineering
  • Waste stabilisation ponds (WSPs) / wastewater lagoons
  • Ecological engineering
  • Water quality assessment

Liah's research broadly lies within environmental engineering, and more specifically in pond-based wastewater treatment technologies. Her research career thus far has focused on deepening our understanding of the performance of waste stabilisation pond (WSP) assets. WSPs are the most widely used wastewater treatment technology worldwide, in both developed and developing countries. 60% of Australian wastewater treatment plants primarily use pond technology for wastewater treatment. 

Liah's research into WSP performance has included the impact of sludge accumulation on hydraulics; this having involved the development of a remote control boat that can be used to survey pond bathymetry, along with software to analyse the results. Liah is also interested in the biophysical coupling that occurs in ponds, which also effects treatment performance. This includes the development of a new protocol to analyse WSP water samples using flow cytometry - something not previously done in WSPs. This has led to studies in the characterisation of greenhouse gas emissions from WSP assets. 

Aside from research in wastewater treatment, Liah has also been invovled in the bathymetry mapping and water quality assessment of urban lakes and rivers, including the first ever bathymetry mapping of the salt lakes on Rottnest Island, and quantification of sedimentation in natural pools along the Canning River. 


Current projects

  • Melbourne Water: Investigation of greenhouse gas emissions from lagoon systems
  • ARC Training Centre for the Transformation of Australia's Biosolids Resource: Biosolids characterisation
  • Various water utilities: Remotely operated sludge management technology

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Environmental Engineering, PhD, An integrated approach to improving waste stabilisation pond performance, The University of Western Australia

Award Date: 13 Dec 2017

Environmental Engineering, BE(Hons), The University of Western Australia

Award Date: 29 Mar 2012

BA, The University of Western Australia

Award Date: 13 Mar 2012

Industry keywords

  • Environmental

Research expertise keywords

  • Environmental engineering
  • Waste stabilization ponds
  • Wastewater
  • Ecological engineering
  • Sludge
  • Sludge management
  • Pond hydraulics
  • Baffles


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