Dept of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Centre for Environmental and Information Technology (EIT)
200 University Ave. W
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567
André Unger studies how municipalities can sustainably manage their water resources and infrastructure using a variety of tools, including groundwater and surface water modeling, and water infrastructure asset management tools.
Professor Unger also studies the financial and health risks associated with re-developing hazardous waste sites known as "brownfields" using alternative clean-up techniques.
Office: EIT 2051C
Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 37235
- Water resource supply and infrastructure management, including financial sustainability
- Redevelopment of urban hazardous waste sites as "brownfields" in North America using alternative remediation technologies
- Assessing financial risk of geological engineering projects subject to sparse data, subsurface heterogeneity and uncertain market information
Financially sustainable water resource supply and infrastructure
Professor Unger's research focuses on assessing the risk associated with securing the future water supply using groundwater/surface water hydrologic models at the watershed scale.
The Province of Ontario has recently issued legislation mandating that all municipalities with a permit to issue water to residents must ensure that their water system is self-financing in order to have their permit renewed. In other words, the fee consumers pay per cubic meter of water consumed must be sufficient to cover all expenses needed to operate and maintain the system in a safe and reliable manner.
While this seems like an obvious requirement, it is a fundamental paradigm shift in how municipalities operate.
Professor Unger is also investigating project finance strategies to rehabilitate and expand the infrastructure needed to deliver and collect water to and from households given the uncertainty in population growth and the residential/commercial demand for water; the uncertainty in commodity prices consumed during all capital works and O&M activities used to maintain the infrastructure; and the uncertainty in the degradation rate and operable lifespan of the infrastructure.
Financially sustainable brownfield’s redevelopment
Professor Unger also examines the financial risk associated with cleaning up former industrial sites.
These properties, called “brownfield’s”, sometimes have a high enough land value that a developer will remediate and redevelop the brownfield site for either commercial or residential purposes.
These end uses expose the developer to substantial future risk in that contamination remaining in the subsurface after remediation and redevelopment may pose a public health risk. For example, people working or living at the redeveloped site can inhale soil gases flowing across the foundation of buildings and impacting the indoor air.
Professor Unger's research focuses on developing financial strategies to quantify, value and hedge this risk assuming that the developer will take immediate action to retrofit, demolish, or reconstruct the building and comply with regulatory exposure level of contaminants within the indoor air rather than be exposed to unlimited punitive damages from real or perceived adverse health impacts.
He has also been examining this issue by developing multi-phase multi-component compositional/thermal numerical models to simulate the expected behavior and uncertainty in the performance of alternative remediation technologies to clean-up brownfield sites. He also simulates the likelihood that remaining contamination will impact the indoor air and consequently exceed regulatory exposure levels.
Finally, he is developing financial models to price the risk that post-development remedial action will need to be undertaken so that the developer can either purchase an insurance policy or reserve an adequate contingency fee to cover the risk. His objective is to ensure that the brownfield redevelopment project remains solvent and financially sustainable over its lifespan as all stakeholders seek to recoup their costs.
Professor Unger's course offerings have included:
- CivE/EnvE/GeoE/EARTH 153 — Earth Engineering
- EARTH 456/656 — An Introduction to Numerical Methods in Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport Modeling
- EARTH 650 — Flow and Transport through Porous Media
- EARTH 651 — Advanced Numerical Methods for Flow and Transport in Porous Media
Awards and Distinctions
- 2014 Outstanding Performance Award
Please see André Unger's Google Scholar profile for a current list of his peer-reviewed articles.
University of Waterloo Affiliations
- Centre for Advancement in Trenchless Technologies
Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute
- Cross-appointed to the Department of Civil Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, and the Cheritan School of Computer Science
Professional Associations and Service
- Professional Engineer, Province of Ontario, Canada
Professional Engineer, Province of Ontario
1995 PhD University of Waterloo, Waterloo Ontario
1991 MSc University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
1990 BSc University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario