Systems Thinker, scientist, engineer, Problem Solver and policy analyst. Provider of alternative perspective. Independent. Dr Coombes has spent more than 30 years dedicated to the development of systems understanding of the urban, rural and natural water cycles with a view to finding optimum solutions for the sustainable use of ecosystem services, provision of infrastructure and urban planning. He has been involved in a wide range of projects, advised many clients and governments, providing strategic design, policy and economic advice to the satisfaction of governments and society.
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle, 2002
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Hons), 1997
Bachelor of Surveying (Hons), 1998
Associate Diploma of Engineering (Hons), 1992
Accredited GreenStar Professional, 2008
- Ability to understand and solve complex problems with associated leadership
- Capacity building and management of multiple disciplinary teams involved in change processes
- A pioneer of water sensitive projects and cities, Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) and Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM)
- Strong experience of political processes involved with water cycle management policies at federal, state and local government levels. Indeed this experience includes initiating policy reform at Ministerial levels.
- Data collection, forenzic analysis, software development and simulation of systems
- The ability to design and deliver integrated systems, particularly integrated water, planning and environmental cycles
- Technical investigation and academic research using first principles engineering analysis, investment economics and microbiological science
- Extensive government, policy and regulatory understanding of water, urban development, planning and sustainability issues
- Creation of evidence based policies and regulation
- Excellent oratory skills – public speaking, seminars, technical lectures and media engagements
- Strong written communication style – technical publications, consultancy reports, public policy and public commentary such as opinion pieces
Summary of experience
Consulting and research
- Designed and developed over 120 sustainable developments in Australia and internationally
- Author of over 150 peer reviewed research publications, including book chapters, journal articles, keynote papers and conference publications, and supervision of 5 completed PhD research programs
- Delivery of research and consulting projects across science, engineering and economic issues relating to water resources including integrated water cycle management, source control, catchment management, ecological sustainability, water demand, water balance modelling, water resource economics and bio-chemistry
- Awarded more than $3 million in competitive and industry research funding
- Founding and Managing Director of Bonacci Water (2008 – 2012)
- Managing Director of Urban Water Cycle Solutions (1998 -)
- National research leader for innovative Water Sensitive Urban Design strategies in eWater CRC (2005 – 2010)
- Chairman of the Stormwater Industry Association
- Initiator and advisor on the creation of the Bluescope Water by Bluescope Steel
- Initiator of and one of the contributors to the Living Victoria policy
- Integration of urban drainage elements of Australian Rainfall and Runoff into modern water cycle management for Engineers Australia
- Chief Scientist at the Office of Living Victoria in the Victorian Government (2013 – 2014)
- Leadership and Systems Analyst of the water cycle aspects of multiple state significant projects in Victoria, including East Werribee Employment Project, Doncaster Hill Precinct, Egate, Armstrong Creek and solving of flooding issues for over 100 km of the Western Highway
- Member of water advisory panel of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (2006-07)
- Member of the Urban Water Advisory Panel of the National Water Commission (2006 – 2008)
- Advisor, United Nations Water Security Section, Environment and Development Division
- Advisor to international Governments including Canada, Saudi Arabia, India, Korea and New Zealand
- Assisted New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australian and Queensland Governments in the development of water, planning and regulatory policy (1999 – )
- Author of policy reviews and design guides for Water Sensitive Urban Design and Integrated Water Cycle Management across all levels of Government
- Member of Victorian Government’s Our Water Our Future panel on alternative water sources (2007)
- Advisor on regional stormwater management projects for the Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment (2006).
- Author of and expert adviser to the Victorian Government Living Melbourne, Living Victoria water policy for Greater Melbourne (2010 – 2012)
- Author of the integrated systems analysis, alternative water and business strategy for the Greater Sydney region for the Board of Sydney Water Corporation.
- Leader and co-developer of the original capacity building program for integrated water cycle management and water sensitive urban design in the Hunter region of New South Wales that involved 16 local government areas, water authorities, government agencies and the community (1998 – 2002).
- Special project officer, Infrastructure and Planning Manager, Newcastle and Maitland City Councils
- Director of the program to develop the draft Melbourne Integrated Water Cycle strategy for the Office of Living Victoria
- Leader of a process for the restoration of the Al Asfar Lake system in the historical city of Al Hasa in Saudi Arabia
Conferences and publications
- Chair, 13th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference, Sydney, 2007
- Chair, 5th International Water Sensitive Urban Design Conference, Sydney, 2007
- Co-author of “Australian Runoff Quality”
- Appointment as Chief Scientist at the Victorian Government’s Office of Living Victoria and contribution to the successful Melbourne’s Water Future strategy submission to the Victoria Cabinet.
- Strong experience in leading high level teams in complex and challenging political environments
- Development of non-linear and spatial economic methods that account for the actual depreciation of water assets that allow more realistic planning for infrastructure management
- Establishment of the one of the first stormwater management divisions within a local government authority.
- Development of integrated systems analysis approaches that allow understanding of the decentralised, multiple scaled and regional impacts of water, planning and energy solutions throughout cities, regions and countries. This process provides understanding of the performance of solutions at muliple scales in response to multiple objectives.
- Development of dynamic systems economic methods to allow understanding of the value of solutions at multiple scales across society.
- Delivery of systems analysis and policy research, and applied policy processes to led to government policies to allow and encourage urban rainwater harvesting and decentralised water management. In particular, research and policy advice that ultimately led to creation of the state environmental policy BASIX in New South Wales. This project included significant interaction with the NSW Cabinet.
- Completion of PhD research that developed a systems approach to water cycle management and economics. Followed by the award of an Australian Research Council Post Doctoral Fellowship and ultimately an Associate Professor at University of Newcastle and Melbourne University. Awarded over $3 million in competitive and industry research funding, and completion of a large number of influencial publications in less than a decade.
- Leader and strategist in the orginal capacity building program for water cycle management and Water Sensitive Urban Design in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. This was essentially a change program to move the water and planning industries from traditional approaches to a more diverse range of solutions and to augment the capacity of those professions. Importantly, this original program has been replicated throughout Australian in a range of similar strategies such as Clearwater in Melbourne and WSUD in Sydney.
- A contribution over a period of more than twenty years as a forenzic and systems analyst to find solutions to significant problems throughout the Australian and international water industry. This has involved the resolution of a wide range of challenges from country towns, regional flooding and metropolitan water resources. This contribution has also included key roles in many major projects.
- Founding and Managing Director of Urban Water Cycle Solutions and Bonacci Water. Both companies have been dedicated to development of systems and forenzic analysis leading to transparant policy and project advice to industry and government. Both companies have achieved financial success from start up (Bonacci Water ultimately achieved an annual value of about $2 million) in a difficult business environment already dominated by existing consultancies with established relationships with bureacracy.
- Contribution to and leadership in many policy policy processes including The Living Victoria Living Melbourne water policy reform process, the Sydney Water Alternative Water Strategy, The Water Advisory Group of the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council and Urban Water Advisory Group of the National Water Commission.
- Initiated and guided the creation of Bluescope Water as a subsiduary company of Bluescope Steel to provide an alternative water solutions throughout Australia
- Provided advice to the Canadian national government that led to policies for wastewater reuse, stormwater and rainwater harvesting.
- Leader of a program to restore the Al Asfar Lake system at Al Hasa in Saudi Arabia. This role included liasion with all levels of the government and coordination of efforts to change attitudes and policies relating to the water cycle.