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Meet the new members of AWA's Queensland committee

With an exciting year ahead for the Australian Water Association’s (AWA) Queensland branch, it’s time to introduce our new committee members, who have just commenced a two-year term across the various committees that serve the AWA and the Australian water industry. 

The team brings knowledge, experience and interests from all corners of the industry to form a diverse committee keen to execute the AWA’s Strategy’22.  

Moira Zeilinga, Clear Idea

What drew you into the water industry?

I fell into the water industry in 1993 as a freshly graduated civil engineer, starting my first full-time role working for Cambooya Shire Council, a small regional council south of Toowoomba that is no longer in existence. I learnt all about SCADA, drilling bores, quality assurance and asset management and have been in the industry ever since.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spending time with my kids and family, cooking, walking my dogs, yoga, attempting to play golf and travel.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?

Becoming digital to enhance decision making is still challenging for many regional council water businesses who don’t have fully integrated corporate systems to manage customers, assets, finances and risk. 

Often there is also a lack of skilled workers or sufficient levels of resources to manage their asset portfolio in regional areas. That said, it is also an exciting time as there are continual advancements being made by technology companies to make it easier for organisations to access digital intelligence, which can be an efficient way of enhancing their workforce at low cost.

Lavanya Susarla, Queensland Urban Utilities

What drew you into the water industry?

Fascination about this unique resource that touches every aspect of life on our planet. I believe it is a privilege to be able to work in the water industry and be enabled to contribute towards a sustainable society.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Nature walks, meditation and reading books on diverse topics.

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

We can no longer be complacent about the availability of water and water-related resources to meet our growing societal and environmental needs. We have to significantly increase our efforts to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to ensure long-term security of our future generations.

Mark Trembath, RedEye

What drew you into the water industry?

I suppose I fell into it when I joined what was then ITT Flygt (Xylem) not even realising I was joining the water sector.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Cycle. I cycle around 12,000 to 15,000 km per year.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?

Asset owners are more confused than ever regarding innovation and technology, which elevates their fear of failure and hampers decision making.

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

Personally, I could not imagine working in any other sector as I have had the pleasure and good fortune to work with many dedicated, environmentally-focused professionals.

Natalie Muir, Cardno

What drew you into the water industry?

I did a couple of water and wastewater treatment subjects at uni and I think from there, I just knew that the water industry was where I wanted to work. To me, it’s always been interesting and challenging. I love the variety of work.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spending time with my family, travelling, reading. I also do a bit of mountain biking and am part of a club that coaches kids’ mountain biking skills; that takes up my Sunday afternoons. And helping with the running of the club consumes any spare time I have during the week!

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?

My hometown is about to run out of water, so I think water scarcity remains a huge issue for us to face as an industry. But water is still not high enough on the political agenda and we lack leadership at a national level. How many towns need to run out of water before we take it seriously?

Narelle D’Amico, Bundaberg Regional Council

What drew you into the water industry?

Prior to graduating from university, the faculty head provided my details to a company seeking a graduate. I accepted and never looked back.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spend time with my family, friends and animals, preferably in the environment. Oh and nurturing my vegetable patch.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?

Building the future water industry. Building an adaptable workforce that meets community expectations, whilst preserving our environment.

Ben Young, Queensland Urban Utilities

What drew you into the water industry?

I have always been interested in the water industry. I had a lot of exposure to its value growing up in a beachside semi-rural town in New Zealand that was heavily reliant on water for its economic growth. 

After finishing my engineering studies this sense of value for water was strengthened. I then worked in the agricultural irrigation field and the London wastewater industry, which showed how varied but still important its distribution and treatment is to numerous different groups.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

As a New Zealander I’m a strong All Blacks supporter, but I also enjoy playing golf and getting out into the regions for weekend hiking. Being new to Brisbane, my partner and I still have plenty of new sites and places to see so we spend a lot of our spare time getting out and seeing all Queensland has to offer.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?

I think one of the biggest challenges we will continue to face is water security for the region and ensuring we get the most value out of the available resource by ensuring water is used in the most efficient way for the benefit of the local community and economy. 

The challenge is well known but complex, with numerous different areas putting a differing value on water and what is defined as ‘fit for purpose’ changing between these groups. The challenge will continue to evolve with technology improvements and changes in the economy. I look forward to working to help solve this evolving challenge.

Johanna Johnson, Logan Water

What drew you into the water industry?

The water industry is an amazing place to work. It’s a place where I can utilise my love of science and sustainability.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love travelling to new places, spending time with my family and taking care of the fur children.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?

The water industry has challenges but that coincides with being an innovative and exciting place to work. I think one of the upcoming challenges we are going to face is emerging contaminants in biosolids and recycled water and how we as an industry are going to rise to this challenge.

Rita Vieira Lemos, Advanced Water Management Centre

What drew you into the water industry?

My interest in the water industry was born during my studies. Advised by a good friend, I chose to do an internship at Wetsus, a research centre for water technology in the Netherlands. It was during this time that I became more and more aware of water issues and the challenges we face to provide safe water and just how endangered and underappreciated this resource is. I then chose to dedicate my career to developing new technology for the water sector.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m an amateur boxer, so I periodically spend a lot of time training and preparing for a fight. But when I’m not competing, I’ll spend my spare time hiking and planning my next camping trip.

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

To keep the reasons that brought us to the water sector as present as possible. We’re all much better professionals when we have a strong sense of purpose.

For more information about the AWA's state branches, click here.