About MHL

Manly Hydraulics Laboratory MHL is located in Manly Vale, New South Wales. We acknowledge here the traditional custodians of this land, Kay-ye-my (denoting 'manly') clan of the Guringai people, and pay our respects to their elders past and present.

MHL was established in 1944 under the then NSW Department of Public Works (now Public Works Advisory), to undertake hydraulic studies of the Oberon Dam. MHL is now a business unit within the Water Division of the Department of Planning and Environment.

Since its establishment, MHL has developed specialist capabilities and experience in a range of coastal, water and environmental management areas to become NSW Government's specialist professional advisor in its core capability areas, which include:

  • flow and water quality measurement and investigations
  • oceanographic, coastal, estuarine and riverine process studies
  • investigation and design of hydraulic, coastal and maritime structures.

MHL's recognised capabilities include the use of physical and numerical models integrated with our extensive coastal data collection and management experience to maximise public value in the solutions and advice we provide.

MHL's experienced hydrographers operate one of the world's most comprehensive coastal and environmental data collection networks on behalf of NSW Government, hosting over 16,000 station years of continuous data extending from the 1980s.

Professional engineers and scientists utilise both numerical models and scaled physical hydraulic models in a broad range of studies. Our irregular and multi-directional wave modelling facilities and NATA accredited flow meter calibration capability are unmatched in Australia. MHL's commercial boats and registered divers offer scientific reconnaissance and maritime structure assessment capabilities.

MHL operates on a fee for service basis under a quality management system certified to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and AS 4801. Our safety, environmental and quality policy is available here. Our clients include government agencies and the private sector.


MHL's Flood and Coastal Intelligence Tool (MHLFIT) comprises a suite of applications and services which aim to provide users with real-time data, visualisation and predictive decision support mechanisms to aid in flood emergency management throughout NSW.

The MHLFIT system is designed around a framework which targets the rapid development and deployment of customised real-time tools which focus on:

  • Flooding
  • Waves
  • Tides
  • Coastal lagoon entrance behaviour
  • Water quality
  • Erosion
  • Wind (and wind driven waves)
  • Other environmental factors relating to water

The system is underpinned by MHL's state-of-the-art high availability database (ORRCA) capable of integrating data from many different sources, telemetry systems and formats in a robust and reliable manner. ORRCA is built using cloud architecture and utilises dynamic load balancing to ensure continual operation and accessibility even during peak traffic conditions. The system additionally has full fail-over redundancy using back up servers in multiple regions, ensuring that data is never lost.