Resources > Latest News > Meet the 2019 individual queensland water award recipients

Meet the 2019 individual Queensland Water Award recipients

Hear from the 2019 Australian Water Association's (AWA) Queensland Water Award individual winners on what drew them into the water industry, their inspiration and their thoughts on the greatest challenges for the water industry.

Darryl RossDaryl Ross

Acting Director – Road and Water Infrastructure, Logan City Council

2019 Queensland Water Professional of the Year

Daryl Ross is one of the quiet achievers of the Queensland water industry; a calm, strategic, compassionate voice across his 43 years as a water engineer and leader. Among his many achievements, he helped create the first non-statutory regional plan for South East Queensland, led the strategic response to the Millennium drought, and transformed two water businesses. Ross’ willingness to share learnings with the broader industry is having an immediate and lasting impact on our sector.

What drew you into the water industry?
I received a state government scholarship to study civil engineering with a job in the Department of Local Government upon graduation in 1977 and while I have worked for a range of employers in the intervening years, it has always been with a focus on providing water supply and sewerage services to the community.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from those people with passion, drive and courage to improve the world and community they live in without consideration for their own reward. There are so many of these individuals at all levels in the local government and water sector.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
As an indicator of my advancing age, I am a keen gardener and maintaining my acreage property is time consuming. Being Pop to my nine grandchildren is always a pleasure. Travelling overseas and taking thousands of photos and turning over my wine cellar are also on the list. My golf handicap is heading in the wrong direction these days.

If you were a breed of dog, which would you be and why?
Interesting question. Probably a husky. The lead dogs need to ensure that the whole team is pulling in the same direction and working hard in challenging circumstances.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?
The greatest challenge in my view is convincing our political representatives to take a long-term view of the water cycle and its place in supporting the sustainable growth of our communities.

How does your organisation benefit from being a corporate member of the AWA?
There are benefits at a range of levels, starting with a learning and sharing environment for young professionals, great networking opportunities for experienced professionals and an independent advocacy forum and voice for the strategic issues of the industry as a whole.

What messages would you like to give to your colleagues in the Queensland water sector?
Keep up the great work that our sector is doing in terms of innovation and working collaboratively on challenges of evidence-based sustainable regional and catchment-wide water management.

Matt DawsonMatt Dawson

General Manager Solutions, TRILITY

2019 Queensland Distinguished Service Award

Matt Dawson has more than 20 years of experience in the water sector and is recognised as an outstanding leader in the industry through his work at TRILITY. Dawson served as a member of the AWA Queensland Branch from 2010 to 2019, with two of these years served as state president. During his time on the committee, Dawson revolutionised the way events are done in Queensland. He saw the conferences as not just events, but a way to unite our ever-changing industry. Dawson was instrumental in the support of the North Queensland conference, which has now become a highlight on the calendar. Dawson is a true advocate of the industry, never missing an opportunity to raise community awareness of the issues facing our industry and he is an inspiring role model for young professionals.

What drew you into the water industry?
I have always had a love of water and the natural environment growing up: boating, water skiing, surfing, fishing, etc. One day I was standing beside a dam watching a gated spillway open and saw the beauty and power of the supercritical flow and hydraulic jump form and from then on I was keen to be involved with water somehow. I went that way in university and have worked in water my whole career.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
Watching the teams around me solve problems and meet the challenges we are faced with. Seeing people step up and show leadership in meeting these challenges. We are going to need all of this given the challenges our sector and planet face in the near future.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Mountain biking, ever dwindling time with my almost grown up kids, walking with my wife around the beautiful beaches and bush of the Sunshine Coast and experimenting with my new pizza oven.

If you were a breed of dog, which would you be and why?
A Labrador: usually relaxed, loyal, always keen to go and do something, and always hungry!

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?
I think as an industry we are facing many challenges: ageing assets, changing stakeholder expectations, competition for funds, climate change, emerging risks, etc. Collectively, we have the intellectual capacity to work through this but I’m not sure as a collection of organisations in the industry we always work together in the most effective ways to ensure we have the right people focused on these challenges and not distracted by other issues.

How does your organisation benefit from being a corporate member of the AWA?
Insight and understanding into what challenges and opportunities organisations in other parts of the sector are faced with and also the network of people who make our industry work.

What messages would you like to give to your colleagues in the Queensland water sector?
Keep up the hard work on meeting our challenges and let us please maintain the collaborative culture that we have in Queensland. It really is a unique environment we are in and it shapes the way our sector and AWA in Queensland works for the better.

AIDAN SYMONSAidan Symons

Senior Engineer, SMEC

2019 Queensland Young Water Professional of the Year

Aidan Symons is a natural leader who is respected and revered by his colleagues and friends. His professional achievements in design management, multidisciplinary design coordination and remote teaming are exemplary. Symons’ personal contribution to the water industry greatly exceeds that of most professionals his age. He is actively involved in the AWA as a long-time member and Young Water Professionals (YWP) sub-committee member and as Chair of the YWP National Taskforce. Symons’ efforts in developing mentoring programs demonstrate his enthusiasm to engage and empower the next generation of industry professionals.

What drew you into the water industry?
I’ve always enjoyed solving problems, and water is arguably one of the most important and complex problems there is. The water industry has given me opportunities to work with amazing people from diverse backgrounds to solve some really rewarding problems.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
I’m inspired by the people I work with, the YWP Committee, my colleagues and our clients, who are genuinely working to make the world a better place, from championing diversity and inclusion initiatives, to mentoring “competitors”, to steering projects to deliver the best outcomes for the community.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love travelling, bushwalking, learning new things, and enjoying a nice home-cooked meal in front of the TV with my wife.

If you were a breed of dog, which would you be and why?
Labrador. I love adventure and would like to think that I’m friendly and helpful.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?
Community literacy of water issues such as drought, water recycling, drinking bottled water, and fluoride in drinking water. Community perception of these issues often drives policy and decision making, and as water professionals, this can sometimes be frustrating. However, we’ve got to ask ourselves, “Whose responsibility is it to educate the community on water issues, if not ours?”

How does your organisation benefit from being a corporate member of the AWA?
Membership helps inspire our people by showing them and our clients that we care about being engaged in the water industry, and gives us the opportunity to support initiatives and events, such as the 2020 AWA/IWA Australia-New Zealand YWP Conference.

What messages would you like to give to your colleagues in the Queensland water sector?

  1. Be grateful for the support you receive and aspire to pay it forward to future young professionals.
  2. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
  3. Never lose sight of the fact that we’re here to benefit the communities we work in.

Ji LuJi Lu

Research Scholar, The University of Queensland

2019 Student Water Prize

Lu is a final year PhD student whose project provides evidence for the risk assessment on the impact of non-antibiotic antimicrobials. His project suggests the need for the water industry to establish non-antibiotic antimicrobial control strategies. Lu’s project may also enlighten future research on the potential impact of broad-ranged non-antibiotic chemicals on the spread of antibiotic resistance.

What drew you into the water industry?
After finishing my master’s research on nanoparticle-based gene-delivery, a desire to find out whether the nanoparticles discharged into the aquatic environment could facilitate the bacterial acquisition of antibiotic resistance gene drew me to the water industry.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
My supervisor inspired me a lot throughout my study. His deliberate and logical thinking is a lifelong skill I acquired that can be applied beyond the academic realm.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like travelling, archery and cooking after work. A picnic with family and friends to share the food I prepared is always a good way to spend the weekend.

If you were a breed of dog, which would you be and why?
Labrador. It is a good breed for guide dogs and detection dogs.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?
The limited public awareness of the antibiotic resistance crisis should be the greatest challenge of my area. People need to know more about the increasing risk of untreatable pathogens from the environment.

How does your organisation benefit from being a corporate member of the AWA?
The connection between research and reality is the foremost advantage of being a corporate member of the AWA.

What messages would you like to give to your colleagues in the Queensland water sector?
The risk of exposure to antibiotic resistance bacteria in the water environment is substantial. We need to corporate with the water industry to find solutions.

The QLD Source Editorial committee is always thinking about how to better engage with its broader membership. Do you have a diverse background or experience you would like to share? Do let us know if you would like a chat by the bubbler.