Our History

The role of the Australian Water Association has been to support the water industry in Australia as it faces the challenges of managing our water environment. At AWA's inception in 1962, post-war installation of water and sanitation was high on the agenda.

Today's challenges include the need to address the current professional skills shortage, uncertainty arising from the impacts of climate change, stressed water resources on a national scale, and water reuse and recycling.

Download The Australian Water Association's 50 Years booklet.

The Australian Water Association has been operating for over five decades. The following section provides a short summary, for each reporting (financial) year, listing key milestones in the growth and development of the organisation.









2010 Lucia Cade was named President-Elect of AWA. The new AWA website is launched. Completed the implementation of AWA's new financial system and upgrade to the CRM system. The Water Quality Monitoring and Analysis Specialist Network held its first event. The Water Industry Capacity Development Industry Program presented its first workshop. A review of Biosolids Guidelines in Australia and New Zealand was completed. TasWater'10 attracted record numbers. The first national conference by the Source Management Specialist Network was delivered.
2009 A new strategic plan for 2009-2012 was developed during the reporting year. AWA made a number of submissions to government enquiries. The Sustainability Specialist Network was created and a series of workshops in Sustainability Implementation took place. The Australasian Biosolids Partnership gave way to the Australian and New Zealand Biosolids Partnership. The Community of Practice for Environmental Water managers industry program was developed. WaterAUSTRALIA was established. AWA hosted and chaired the Water Industry Skills Taskforce. The H2Oz careers in water website was launched at National Water Week. Ozwater'09 set a new record for delegate participation and trade exhibition. AWA's first training course online was delivered. An enhanced awards program was presented including the AWA YWP Award and the administration of the 2010 Prime Minister's Water Wise Award. Key system upgrades were developed and the IT capability expanded.


Rebranding took place introducing the new AWA logo and visual identity. Two new Specialist Networks were introduced. Published the production of branch and volunteer guidelines. AWA became a regional affiliate for the International Desalination Association. Enviro'08 conference extended into energy and sustainable cities. A decision was undertaken to hold Ozwater annually. Review of the National Awards Program. Introduction of a new course: Australian Water Industry Essentials. AWA Membership grew by 10%. The Community of Experts was created. Most AWA Branches saw growth in member activity. Ongoing development of web and online functionality.


This year was one of change and renewal for the AWA, starting with the appointment of the new CEO, Tom Mollenkopf. A strategic plan for the years 2007-2011 was developed. An in-house Events team took over the management of all key conferences. Ozwater achieved record delegate registrations. Development of Platinum Packages to customise membership and services for corporate members took place. Reform of the governance structure continued with the election of the second skills based Board and the centralisation of financial and accounting functions. The improvement of the website in terms of speed, looks and functionality, continued.


First broad stakeholder strategic planning session held. PT Policy Officer appointed. Marketing and Communications position expanded following secondment of Clare Porter to Melbourne Water for 2 years. Given national focus on water issues brought on by continuing drought, awareness and profile of AWA reached all time high. Branch and remote staff provided online access and integration with AWA HO systems. Early phases of further web site improvement.


IWA Australia Committee became a Branch of AWA. Fundamental governance reform including a major reworking of financial management, with rigorous cost allocations introduced for the first time, global, integrated budgeting. Reform establishes nine member Board elected by Strategic Advisory Council who represent members through branch structures. Succession Planning Committee established to assist with securing nomination of suitable persons as director and for senior staff appointments. Ozwater Convention and Exhibition in Brisbane, Chaired by Steve Posselt set new standards and benchmarks. Increase in awareness about AWA nationally.


Establishment of the WaterAid charity. The Water Education Network (WEN) established under management of Corinne Cheeseman. Plans for governance reform rolled out through a series of branch consultative meetings. Enviro 04 in Melbourne. Rod Lehmann from Brisbane takes over as President. Began implementation of new membership database and management system, coupled with a revamp of web site.


New management and reporting systems implemented to facilitate better performance in all facets of operation with annual business plan tied to budget portfolios. Michael Seller employed to specifically target membership recruitment and retention. Lee Devereaux employed as specific national events manager. Active across a broader spectrum of activities, including awards for students; community education and development aid. Creation of the Australia Water Partnership as a policy forum and a link with the Global Water Partnership. Ozwater Convention in Perth was well done and delivered a good margin. Audit and Governance Review Committee established to monitor probity and compliance. The Water Treatment Alliance began operation, in a joint venture with the Water Services Association.


The second Enviro Conference was held in Melbourne, in conjunction with the exhibition, now renamed the Enviro exhibition for operation with the Enviro series of events. The We All Use Water suite of water information was published after several years of work by Jenifer Simpson and a team in Queensland. Publication of the Crosscurrent newsletter as a separate title ceased and the content was included in the journal, "Water". The first TECHNOtour went over to Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, to see integrated water management concepts. The first of the new Water Industry Master Class series were held, in Sydney and Melbourne. Students from Newton Moore High School in Bunbury, WA, won the Australian Junior Water Prize and they earned an honourable mention at the Junior Water Prize in Stockholm.


AWA abandoned its status as an association incorporated in ACT and registered as a company limited by guarantee, as at the 1st of February. The 19th Federal Convention was held in Canberra, organised by Ian White and Ross Knee. Barry Sanders was given the George Goffin Award, the fourth member to receive that honour. Barry Norman began his term as Federal President. The last Water Industry Executive Program was held at Mt Eliza College in Victoria; having been operating since 87. The Reuse Special Interest Group held a successful conference in Adelaide and earmarked the surplus for use in future projects to promote reuse.


The first Enviro Convention was staged in Sydney, jointly owned by AWA, the Waste Management Association and the Clean Air Society. The Ozwater-Ozwaste exhibition ran in parallel and the Chairman of the joint event was Mike Williamson. AWA's national office took over accounting functions for the branches.

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The 18th Federal Convention was held in Adelaide, organised by Don Bursill. Allen Gale became Federal President, for an abbreviated term because of the shift in cycles under the new Constitution. AWWA dropped 'Wastewater' from its name and the logo design and colour were amended slightly, but the overall design was similar to become the Australian Water Association. The November/December issue of Water was published by Hallmark Editions for the first time. AWA engaged its first professional accountant, Susan Wilkins.


The Hazardous & Solid Waste Convention and the Watertech Conference were held, with the Ozwater-Ozwaste exhibition, in Sydney. Brian McRae became AWWA's first Technical Director.


The 17th Federal Convention was held in Melbourne, organised by Barry Norman. Greg Cawston was appointed as Federal President. The Water Corporation of WA won the Water Environment Merit Award for its Albany effluent irrigation project.


The Hazardous & Solid Waste Convention was held in Brisbane, and the Watertech Conference was held in parallel, for the first time.


The 16th Federal Convention was held in Sydney, organised by Mike Williamson. Mark Pascoe became Federal President. Prof Jörg Imberger received the Peter Hughes Water Award and went on to win the Stockholm Water Prize in 1996. The NSW Department of Land & Water Conservation won the Water Environment Merit Award.


The Hazardous & Solid Waste Convention was held in Melbourne, with the combined Ozwater-Ozwaste exhibition, and a workshop on Drinking Water Quality was held in parallel.


The 15th Federal Convention was held on the Gold Coast, organised by Rod Lehmann and including a formal exhibition, Ozwater, for the first time. The Rules of AWWA were amended to improve operations. One of the changes was to cut the number of representatives from each branch from two to one. Richard Marks became Federal President. The Water Environment Merit Award was inaugurated and the first winner was the CSBP fertiliser plant in Albany, WA, for work done by Sinclair Knight to reduce phosphorus discharges to Princess Royal Harbour. The Peter Hughes Water Award was made for the first time, to the CSIRO's Division of Water Resources, for work on salinity. AWWA's Federal Office moved from 76 Hampden Road, to 44 Hampden Road, Artarmon, a new, much larger office with enough room to accommodate reasonable growth in staff levels. AWWA took over publication of its journal, Water, for the first time.


The first full-time Executive Director, Chris Davis, was appointed and he took over from Peter Hughes, who retired properly. The total staff complement was the Office Manager, Margaret Bates, three other part-time workers, and the Executive Director. The first Ozwaste Exhibition was staged, as part of the Hazardous & Solid Waste Convention in Sydney. Frank Bishop became the third recipient of the George Goffin Award.


14th Federal Convention was held in Perth, organised, for the second time, by Barry Sanders. Barry Sanders became Federal President. AWWA's Federal Office moved to its own premises at 76 Hamdpen Road, Artarmon, a small, cramped office above a shop, without airconditioning but, for the first time, independent accommodation.


AWWA's Federal office moved from Sydney Water's headquarters in Bathurst Street in the City, to its Chatswood regional office in the Interchange Building. Peter Hughes became the second recipient of the George Goffin Award.

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Peter Hughes introduced the newsletter, Crosscurrent, as a source of policy news and also aiming to improve AWWA's advocacy efforts. It was published 11 times per year (ie monthly, excluding January) and soon evolved to an eight-page format. The 13th Federal Convention was held in Canberra. The directory first published in 1988 evolved into the AWWA Handbook, in a properly bound paperback format and containing more information than the first version.


AWWA engaged Margaret Bates as Office Manager, still operating from the Sydney Water Board offices in downtown Sydney, but with a larger time allocation than the fist incumbent. Instigated by Margaret Bates, the AWWA Water Industry Services Directory was published, listing all sustaining members and including details of honours and awards, as well as the history of Conventions. In December, Water appeared with a refined logo, still blue waves, but on an improved shield and having distinctively crossed lines in the two Ws.


12th Federal Convention was held in Adelaide and a strategic review resolved to widen AWA's interests and membership, and to open membership to anyone interested in water, rather than just people with suitable academic training and experience. The George Goffin Award was initiated and went to George Goffin himself. The first Water Industry Management Course was held at Mt Eliza Staff College, Victoria, attended by 29 aspiring executives.


Michael Dureau became Federal President and Peter Hughes was engaged as the first Executive Director for AWWA, working on a part-time basis. The first Hazardous Waste Convention was held, in Sydney, organised by Errol Samuel.


11th Federal Convention was held in Melbourne, attended by 325 delegates. Membership of AWWA reached 2,143.


Robert Lloyd became Federal President. Summer School was held in Canberra and a national seminar was held in Adelaide.


The tenth Federal Convention was held in Sydney and a specialist conference on water management in uranium mining was held in Darwin. AWWA appointed a very part-time office manager, Judith Sears, to work in the office at Sydney Water Board. Jim Greer resigned after seven years as Hon Treasurer, was awarded Life Membership and was replaced by John Molloy.


Frank Bishop was elected to the position of Federal President. A plebiscite of members adopted amended Rules and Objectives of AWWA. Membership was 1,961.


The ninth Federal Convention was held in Perth, and the organising committee was chaired by Barry Sanders. Revised objectives and Rules were drafted for AWWA. Guy Parker died and Frank Bishop became Chairman of the Journal Committee.


Summer School was held in Adelaide. Doug Lane became AWWA's Federal President.

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The eighth Federal Convention was held on the Gold Coast. Federal Council engaged George Goffin as part-time Editor of Water. Alan Pettigrew was elected as Federal President.


Summer School was held in Hobart.


The seventh Federal Convention was held in Canberra, attended by 220 delegates, the first odd-year date for this event.


AWWA organised the IAWPR international conference in Sydney, so no AWWA Convention was held that year. AWWA had appointed a part-time secretary, but encountered financial difficulties and ran at a loss. A crisis meeting was held and the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works agreed to provide an Hon Treasurer (Jim Greer) and the Sydney Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board agreed to provide an Hon Secretary (Peter Hughes) and office facilities in its Bathurst Street headquarters. In view of tough economic conditions for the Association, the membership subscription for an individual was raised to $12 pa.


The second Summer School was held in Canberra. John Craig, publisher of Water, died and publication was handed over to APPITA, a paper industry technical association. Messrs Truman, Murphy and Swinton became the honorary editors and Guy Parker became Journal Committee Chairman. Harold McFie took over from Trevor Judell as Federal President.


The NT Branch of AWWA was formed and the sixth Federal Convention was held in Melbourne. Federal Council decided to publish a quarterly journal, Water and the first issue appeared in March, 24pp, with A H Truman as Hon Editor and John Craig as publisher.


The Tasmanian Branch of AWWA was established and the first Summer School was held in Canberra. Dr Trevor Judell began a two-term office as Federal President. By the end of the financial year, membership had reached 916.


WA Branch of AWWA was formed and the fifth Federal Convention was held in Adelaide. Federal Council incorporated AWWA as an Association in the ACT, under the Associations Incorporation Act. Membership was 758 by 30 June 72. The initial logo was abandoned and a new design, consisting of two blue wave symbols on a shield, was adopted, although some branches still used the original, circular logo.


George Goffin began what was to become two sequential terms as Federal President. Reg Goldfinch became the Hon Secretary/Treasurer and was to remain in that position until 76.


Fourth Federal Convention was held in Sydney. R D Scott-King commenced a second term as Federal President.

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The ACT Branch of AWWA was formed. W C Andrews became Federal President.


Third Biennial Federal Convention was held at Broadbeach, on Queensland's Gold Coast, attended by 208 delegates. Dr Jack Dwyer took over from Guy Parker as Federal President and F C Speldewinde became Hon Secretary/Treasurer, the beginning of a three-year term.


Dr Michael Flynn began a second term as Federal President and Jim McIntosh assumed the role of Hon Secretary/Treasurer. Membership of AWWA had grown to 525.


The second Biennial Federal Convention was held in Melbourne in June, attended by 203 delegates. C D (Guy) Parker became Federal President. Dr D Weiss became Hon Secretary/Treasurer but held the post for only part of the year.


R D Scott-King took over as Federal President.


The first Federal Convention was held in Canberra in September, with 64 delegates. One of the themes was water reuse and the event had income of £195 and ran at a deficit of £340. It was nevertheless judged a success and the Federal Council agreed to stage it on a biennial basis in the future. Henry Hodgson became Federal President. For the first time, a logo was used, a circular design with illustrations of water sources and water in use.


The AWWA had 364 members and Dr Michael Flynn became Federal President.


In June, an inaugural meeting of the Australian Water and Wastewater Association was held and four initial branches were created (Qld, NSW, Vic and SA) and the first President, Jim McIntosh was elected. C D (Guy) Parker became the combined Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer, a post he would hold for four years. The subscription for an individual member was £4 pa and the Association's turnover for that year was £320/6/4.


Growing realisation of the need for a multi-disciplinary association to address water, especially from an urban perspective. A meeting of around 45 interested people was held in Melbourne, during the Institution of Engineers conference, and there was almost unanimous agreement to establish an association. A meeting was held in Sydney too, endorsing the concept of the new association.

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