Ozwater Wrap-Up: A South Australian Perspective

Posted 8 June 2017

On 15 May the water industry descended on Sydney for the annual Ozwater Conference and Exhibition. South Australia was well represented across presenters, exhibitors and delegates. The venue was the brand new International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour and Ozwater was one of the first conferences to use the new facilities.

Major themes throughout the conference were disruption and innovation. There were a number of excellent and thought-provoking keynote speakers across the three days of the conference. Kevin Young of Sydney Water set the scene talking about how the water industry needs to move from being master plumbers to master planners, and how the water industry can play an important part in urban development and the creation of liveable cities.

In the Water Leaders Forum, SA Water’s Roch Cheroux talked about the current project to implement a smart water network in Adelaide’s CBD. This significant project has been driven to try and identify the pre-cursors to problems in the water network so that problems can be fixed in a proactive rather than reactive way. The early data has already identified some interesting findings including how the testing of fire water pumps in high-rise buildings creates micro-surge events in the network. SA Water are now starting to work with customers in these buildings to help them implement new testing regimes that cause fewer issues in the network.

There was also a strong focus on how water utilities engage with their customers. In one workshop the presenters challenged the audience that the old model of “how does the customer fit in to the utility world?” could be updated to “how does the utility process/interaction fit in to the customer’s life?” There was also discussion around how far the industry could take the customer engagement process – could it be used to demonstrate to economic regulators that investment plans are being driven by our customers?

Outside of the technical and workshop streams the exhibition and trade show was one of the largest ever for Ozwater, with companies from across Australia in attendance. Of course, there was the social side of the conference too. It is always a good opportunity to catch up with old friends from the industry and make new ones. The highlight of the social calendar is the Gala Dinner on the Wednesday night which features the annual Water Awards where the winners from each state are put up for the National Awards. Whilst SA didn’t pick up any of the technical awards it was great to see our very own Craig Simmons from the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training pick up the Water Professional of the Year Award. This was a fantastic recognition of Craig’s work in the water industry and also, following on from Marc Fabig’s win last year, a reflection on the South Australian water industry too.