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Dr Wolfgang Schmid

Principle Research Consultant


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During his time at CSIRO, Dr Schmid has worked on

  • Sustainable water management in Western Australia on projects ranging from Managed Aquifer Recharge to more efficient methods of predicting recharge for groundwater allocation planning;

  • Assessing the risks of exceeding regulatory targets:

    • Assessment of groundwater-induced land deformation in NSW (relation between remotely sensed ground deformation and groundwater hydrology to decipher the ‘groundwater signal’ that can lead to irreversible aquifer compaction) with the objective to determine critical groundwater level targets to avoid irreversible land subsidence;

    • Assessing the risks of exceeding contamination targets for treated wastewater chemicals for WaterCorp in WA to determine environmental compliance and to design monitoring programs to describe compliance;

  • Integrated hydrological modelling:

    • Integrated basin modelling projects in South Asia (in particular Indus Basin of Pakistan & Brahmani-Baitarni of India) integral in tackling these Basins’ food-agriculture-water crises;

    • Integrated hydrologic modelling software development and use in 62 applications world-wide (using Farm Process, now integrated into MODFLOW One Water Hydrologic Model (, FREEWAT of Horizon 2020 (, and ModelMuse of the USGS);

  • Impacts of Coal Seam Gas and coal mining developments:

    • Bioregional Assessments of the potential impacts of future Coal Seam Gas and coal mining development on water resources and water-dependent ecological, economic and sociocultural assets;

    • Direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of coal seam dewatering and related land subsidence;

    • Risk assessment of hydraulic fracturing chemicals on human health through complex soil-groundwater pathways (for the National Industrial Chemicals Assessment), which has informed assessments/recommendations of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the NT and continues to inform government in assessing EIS for unconventional gas developments.

Prior to joining CSIRO in 2012, Dr Schmid worked as Assistant Research Professor and Research Hydrologist at the University of Arizona mainly on computational solutions of water resources management in arid and semi-arid areas. He is the main author of ‘The Farm Process’ for MODFLOW now integrated into MODFLOW-OWHM. Before that, Dr Schmid worked as Hydrogeologist in consultancies in Germany and the United Arab Emirates for the German companies GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) and Dornier-Consulting (subsidiary of EADS Germany) with emphasis on groundwater exploration, groundwater modelling, and contaminant hydrogeology.

Other Interests

  • Use of Machine Learning to distinguish between groundwater factors that lead to irreversible aquifer compaction (informed by InSAR-derived land subsidence) and other surface influences (climate, surface water, soils, terrain, land use, etc). This information can be used to generate inferred datasets that then are used to inform/constrain numerical models.
  • Participatory surface-water/groundwater conjunctive use modelling, where one can develop custom socio-economic and management scenarios for the MODFLOW family of codes (in specific the Farm Process, FMP). (Workshop given on that topic at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa (SSSAP), Italy in 2018; current interest in applying a participatory model similar to the work of CSIRO Chile to an Australian Case Study).
  • Groundwater Modelling workshops:

    • for "Four new Generation MODFLOW Processes relevant to Australia" (Farm Process, Surface-Water Routing Process, Subsidence Package, Groundwater Management Process):

      • 2013: CSIRO, Perth (as IAH Congress Short Course);

    • Groundwater modelling workshop on “Indus Basin Groundwater Modelling & Management” for Scientists from Pakistan (through CSIRO’s DFAT engagement):

      • 2016, CSIRO, Canberra;

    • for using MODFLOW One-Water Hydrolgoic Model (OWHM) with the Farm Process (FMP):

      • 2014: Technical University Munich (TUM), Germany;

      • 2017: TUM, Germany, MODFLOW-OWHM jointly with FREEWAT;

      • 2018: SSSAP, Pisa, Italy, MODFLOW-OWHM jointly with FREEWAT given at summer school at SSSAP.

    • Online ICEWaRM workshop on Groundwater modelling with MODFLOW (Free Webinar in 2019).
  • General interest in: Conjunctive surface water / groundwater management & modelling, e.g.,;

    • Hydrologic hindcast or forecast models that simulate constrained surface-water and groundwater supply driven by water demand (e.g., irrigation demand) within fully coupled systems of land use, surface-water, and groundwater.
    • Response of water demand/supply to changing conditions by dynamically linking hydrologic models to models that simulate these external changes (e.g., climate changes, droughts, sea level rise, salt water intrusion, land-use changes, resource exploitation, changes in water rights).
    • Dynamic dependency of surface-water/groundwater interaction on changing heads, flows, and aquifer deformation. This includes:

      1. Improved coupling between river system models and MODFLOW groundwater models with focus on (i) coupling to expand SW/GW interaction to demand-supply interaction across the SW-GW model interface; (ii) type of coupling (i.e., tight vs. loose).

      2. Impacts of aquifer compaction/expansion on surface deformation, deformation-dependent surface-water/groundwater interaction & conjunctive use, and deformation dependency of aquifer-hydraulic properties.

Current Roles

  • Project Leader
    Managed Aquifer Recharge in Myalup (two projects: Groundwater scenario modelling (2017-2018) and Hydrogeological Assessment of MAR in Myalup (2022 - present)

  • Project Leader
    Appropriate Recharge Model Complexity for groundwater allocation models in Western Australia (2020 - present)

  • Project Leader
    Land Subsidence Assessment in New South Wales (two projects: Namoi Basin (2019-2020) & southern inland NSW (2021 - 2022))

  • Activity Lead: Groundwater Modelling
    Sustainable water management in Western Australia (e.g., Myalup irrigated area; Transform Pilbara; Peel food zone; Probabilistic assessment of treated wastewater nutrient attenuation)

  • Activity Lead: Groundwater Modelling
    Sustainable Development Investment Strategy project on Indus Basin of Pakistan (2015-2017)

  • Activity Lead: Groundwater Trend Analysis
    Sustainable Development Investment Strategy project on Brahmani-Baitarni River Basin of India (2014-2016))

Academic Qualifications

  • 2004

    Doctor of Philosophy, Hydrology
    University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

  • 1994

    Diplom, Geology
    University of Tübingen, Germany

  • 1994

    Diplom, Geography
    University of Tübingen, Germany

Professional Experiences

  • 2012-present

    Senior Research Scientist
    CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra (Black Mountain, ACT) & Perth (Floreat, WA), Australia

  • Nov 2009-Dec 2011

    Assistant Research Professor
    University of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources

  • Aug 2004-Oct 2009

    Research Hydrologist
    University of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources

  • Jan 2000-Aug 2004

    Research Assistant
    National Science Foundation Science & Technology Center SAHRA, University of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources

  • Feb 1998-Nov 1999

    Consultant Hydrogeologist
    Consortium GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) and Dornier-Consulting, Groundwater Assessment Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Supervision of two Groundwater Well-Field Development Programs in Al Khazna and Al Ain).

  • 1994-1997

    Consultant Hydrogeologist
    Egner Geoanalytik, Tübingen, Germany (projects: groundwater exploration and water supply (mineral & thermal waters); remediation of contaminant sites; geotechnical site suitability assessments for waste disposals)

Achievements and Awards

  • 2009

    Kevin J Neese Award - Groundwater Assocation of California
    Major Contributor to the awarded USGS team effort on modelling the “Groundwater Availability of the Central Valley Aquifer,”

  • 2013-2016

    Adjunct Faculty Status
    University of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Tucson, USA

  • 2014-2018

    CSIRO Chairman's Medal - Bioregional Assessments CSIRO (awarded 2018)

We have publications by Dr Wolfgang Schmid