Professor Stewart Burn

Professor Stewart Burn.

Professor Stewart Burn: improving Australia’s urban water systems

Professor Stewart Burn leads research that develops cost-effective, whole-system innovations to improve the efficiency and sustainability of Australia's urban water systems.

  • 19 August 2009 | Updated 9 May 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Professor Stewart Burn leads CSIRO Land and Water's Urban Water Systems Engineering research program, where he is responsible for the scientific direction of the program's 35 staff.

In the past Professor Burn's work included fundamental research on the deterioration and management of urban water networks and the development of asset management, planning, prioritisation and risk assessment systems for these networks.

Professor Burn developed the PARMS software suite which is now used by the majority of Australia’s water authorities.

This work culminated in the PARMS software suite which is now used by the majority of Australia’s water authorities as well as a range of deterioration models developed in conjunction with the Water Research Foundation of the United States.

More recently he has moved into the area of resource recovery from wastewater concentrating on recovering the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus components in wastewater streams.

The research team he leads is developing new concepts in the areas of:

  • advanced water and wastewater treatment technologies to recover resources
  • water risk analysis for pathogens and low level contaminants
  • advanced systems for monitoring assets and predicting their lifetimes
  • the development of intelligent data systems for network management
  • urban systems transition using decentralised strategies and solutions.


Professor Burn has been employed by CSIRO since 1978. He is an internationally recognised expert on the performance of materials subjected to a range of degrading environmental factors, focusing on the deterioration and management of urban water networks.

He was instrumental in establishing CSIRO's Urban Water research area where he has an interest in water, wastewater and stormwater research. In this respect he has led major research initiatives in Australia, the European Union and the Americas.

Professor Burn is an Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, Victoria University, Australia and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at RMIT University, Australia. He is also very active in the Australian Water Association, having held the roles of Treasurer and Vice President of the Victorian Branch. He is currently acting as the President of the Victorian branch.

Professor Burn is an Editor for Water Science and Technology, Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, Environmental Economics and Water Asset Management International.

He has represented Australia on 15 national and international committees, many of which he chaired. He chaired the 9th International Durability of Building Materials Conference and has been an expert reviewer for a number of organisations including:

  • The Water Research Foundation
  • United Nations Development program
  • New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology
  • The Research Council of Norway
  • Technology Foundation STW
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
  • Canadian National Guide to Sustainable Infrastructure (2003)
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Ontario Research Fund.

He has also supervised masters and PhD students at RMIT, the Australian National University, Swinburne, Monash and Victoria Universities.

Academic qualifications

Professor Burn has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 1972
  • Diploma of Education also from the University of Melbourne in 1973
  • Graduate Diploma Executive Development Program, Chisholm Institute, Victoria, Australia in 1981.


Professor Burn has published over 350 publications including including 59 peer-reviewed international journal papers, five books chapters and 13 book chapters; as well as numerous industry reports, international conference papers and open publications.

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