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What happened at QWater'18?

Cruising the beautiful Gold Coast Broadwater, glass of wine in hand and fantastic conversation. It’s almost hard to believe that this is paired with learning, but that is just how we began QWater'18.

Thanks to sponsor John Holland, the pre-conference tour focused on Stage 1 of the Gold Coast’s long-term recycled water release. It was great to see some of the plans for the Gold Coast and to hear from our first keynote speaker Dale Dickson, CEO of City of Gold Coast, who talked about the journey the council has taken and its vision for the future.

The technical program at QWater’18 was jam packed with a diverse array of topics. For me, it was great to see some of those sessions that haven’t been traditionally part of the QWater program, such as the Home Safe Panel, Diversity and Collaboration in the Industry, and the focus on Sustainability.

While it’s always difficult to single out one paper as the standout of the conference, Leah Sertorio from Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) was awarded best paper for her work, 'Protecting our Drinking Water – It’s all about Integrity'. Leah will be off to Townsville to present her work at the North Queensland Regional Conference in August thanks to TRILITY, so if you missed it at QWater’18 you can still see it in North Queensland.

There were two additional parts of the technical program I would like to highlight. The first was the leadership panel with Mike Williamson, Director at Unitywater, Louise Dudley, CEO at QUU, and Patrick Newell, Director with Pensar Infrastructure Group, addressing the challenges they have each faced.

Queensland young water professionals Elena Mejia Likosova and William Speirs did an exceptional job as facilitators in leading the panel and it was refreshing to hear that their challenges are the same as all of ours. They really gave the audience some insight.

Qwater'18 conference

The other presentation highlight for me was Fred Hooper, Chair of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations. He reminded me of the exceptional amount of knowledge we can gain by engaging with our land’s heritage. The cultural connections and protection that the Aboriginal Nations provide to our waterways, land and skies was truly inspirational.

Although the technical program is the drawcard, you can’t go past talking about the dolphins and sharks. The QWater’18 dinner started with the amazing Sea World dolphin show, which couldn’t have been possible without the generous support of Downer. We then proceeded into the park for a street party with live music and an international feast. It was a wonderful night to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Qwater'18 conference

The morning after, the brave ones were treated to a behind the scenes tour of Shark Bay. Whilst it wasn’t for me, I did hear that it was incredibly interesting and despite all of the Jaws jokes, everyone returned with all their limbs.

In numbers, this QWater was the biggest yet with 230 delegates in attendance over the 2 days, 23 exhibitors and 2 exceptional organisers, Katie Trevor and Sharon James.

Thanks to all the sponsors who made it happen: WSP, Downer, John Holland, TRILITY, Zinfra, Redlands, Logan, Unitywater, Queensland Urban Utilities, Seqwater and our host, City of Gold Coast. And a last thanks to the organising committee who put together such a memorable and inspiring program.

This article was written for the February 2019 edition of Source QLD.