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What’s your water story, Shaw Abrey?

Shaw is an ecologist and environmental engineer at E2Designlab. He is passionate about ecology and water in urban environments and is interested in developing innovative biological solutions to mitigate the impacts associated with the built environment.

His passion for the natural world stems from his childhood spent in South Africa, along with numerous volunteer experiences including at a Bird Park in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. Shaw is an eager learner and enjoys connecting with like-minded people to share experiences and knowledge.

What drew you into the water industry?

I was fortunate enough to experience an around-the-world trip in 2015. Although unintentional, my journey followed the trail of impacts from an El Niño event; starting in South Africa, which at the time was experiencing terrible drought, to the United States where drought seemed to be just as devastating. Midway through my trip, I found myself volunteering at a Bird Park in a Brazilian tropical forest where the volume of rainfall felt insurmountable. My journey taught me the vast impact that water can have on individuals, communities, and the environment, which instilled a passion that led me into the water industry.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?

Like many idealistic young scientists, David Attenborough has been a big inspiration from a young age. I am also fortunate to be a part of the E2Designlab team, where I have a wealth of knowledge to learn from. Being challenged inspires me to continually improve myself as a young professional in the water industry.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Bushwalks, fish tank maintenance, being a nerd (mostly over Excel), playing basketball, a spot of gaming and some music.

If you were a breed of dog, which would you be and why?

I would say a Labrador… highly driven by treats, love a good back scratch and happy to laze on the couch over a rainy weekend.

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

There is one thing that almost all living organisms need to survive: water. It is no secret that our lifestyles, behaviours and sprawling urban environments are contributing to the extinction of threatened species. We know that global warming is a ticking time bomb — impacts of which are felt across the world. There are communities struggling across the world where clean water is a luxury and not simply available at the turn of a tap.

The biggest challenge is that these are very complex problems; but water can be part of the solution. Retaining water in our urban landscapes can have a cooling benefit through evapotranspiration. Ensuring our urban trees have access to water and healthy soils promotes greater canopies and a level of ecological connectivity. Managing water as a resource can lower our potable water use and improve our resilience when we most need it. Managing urban stormwater flows help preserve the integrity of our waterways and in-stream habitat.

How do you consider your organisation benefits most by being a corporate member of the Australian Water Association?

Being a part of a diverse association where professionals across many disciplines come together to share knowledge and celebrate water.

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

I am most passionate about ecology and storm/freshwater in an urban environment and would warmly welcome any conversations to learn about your experiences.

The QLD Source Editorial committee is always thinking about how to better engage with our broader membership. Do you have a diverse background or experience you would like to share? <a href="mailto:qldbranch@awa.asn.au">Do let us know</a> if you would like to tell us your water story…