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Dr Lynne Powell: a Story of Regional Service

The 2022 recipient of the Australian Water Association Queensland Regional Service Award is Lynne Powell, currently based in Cairns but relocating to Kangaroo Island, South Australia for the next chapter of her notable career. 

What drew you into the water industry? 
I initially fell into the industry by chance gaining a science traineeship with Hunter Water, many moons ago. What has drawn me back and kept me in the industry is the variety of problems we need to solve and the collaborative approach the industry takes to solving these problems. 

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?  
I draw inspiration from the need to gain and share knowledge. There have been many people who have inspired me, the oldest being Charles Darwin, my only hero! I also once had a lecturer at Newcastle University who suggest that I follow my heart in terms of choosing a career path. This turned out to be very accurate and I will always be thankful for the advice.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  
I love to ride my horse, Charlie. This has been a recent activity for me, although I have always loved horses. I have been fortunate to establish a fantastic support network to help me on my journey with Charlie and have a brilliant coach who has given me courage and confidence.

If you were a breed of dog, which would you be and why?  
My daughter got me to do an online survey and it turns out that I am a mixed breed mut!! I think this is probably true because I feel like I am interested in so much, I get enthusiastic about nearly everything and hopefully being a mut, live a long and healthy life! My favourite dog breeds are dachshunds and greyhounds. We have both and they are brilliant dogs. I can sometimes show the stubbornness of a dachshund and definitely the laziness of a greyhound.

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry? 
Breaking down the barriers between the different disciplines in the water sector. To overcome the challenges of climate change there will need to be no barriers. Everyone’s knowledge and skill will be needed to help the industry succeed. The other pressure I feel is the rate of change in technology, the uncertainty in climate modelling and the pressure the industry is under to make the right long-term decisions with so much uncertainty.

How do you consider your organisation benefits from most by being a corporate member of the Australian Water Association? 
Definitely the networks and collaboration. There are limitless opportunities to participate, network and collaborate. We all need to make the most of the opportunities.

What messages would you like to give to your colleagues in the Queensland water sector? 
I would like to thank the Queensland water sector for all the opportunities I have been given over the fourteen years I have been with Cairns Regional Council. I have met some very inspiring people and learned so much. I am hoping to experience the same in South Australia after I move down there this year and get to know their challenges in more detail.