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Queensland water achievements celebrated at AWA Gala Dinner

The Australian Water Association's Queensland (QLD) Water Awards winners have been announced at the QLD Gala Dinner and Awards Night on 9 September at Sofitel Brisbane Central.

The QLD Water Awards recognise the contribution of the Association's members for their inspiring leadership and innovative research, programs and infrastructure projects.

AWA CEO Corinne Cheeseman congratulated all the finalists and winners, noting their outstanding achievements and significant contribution.

"Every one of the Queensland Water Awards winners and finalists exemplifies the extraordinary work being done in water management across the state," Cheeseman said.

"Emerging from Covid, the Brisbane floods earlier this year were a stark reminder of the significant challenges we face with extreme and more frequent weather events. These awards recognise our members' important and ground-breaking work for their communities.

This year's QLD Water Award winners will represent the state in the national Australian Water Awards, which will be presented at AWA's annual water conference and exhibition, Ozwater'23, next May in Sydney.


Regional Service Award: 
Dr Lynne Powell 
As Environmental Officer, Strategic Policy and Compliance Coordinator at Cairns Regional Council, Dr Lynne Powell has been the driver for change, awareness, and education in Far North Queensland and across the state. She is an advocate for Indigenous partnerships, a robust regional voice and has been a critical contributor to the ongoing success of the AWA North Queensland conference.  

Distinguished Service Award: 
Kelly Hopewell 
Kelly Hopewell is the Acting Executive Coordinator, Product Quality and Treatment at the City of Gold Coast. Kelly has been an active member of AWA for many years, having served on the Queensland Branch Committee and the Australian and New Zealand Biosolids Partnership, which she has Chaired since 2018. She is a regular contributor of conference papers, and in 2015, Kelly was awarded a Churchill Fellowship.  

R&D Excellence Award (sponsored by Water Research Australia):  
Urban Utilities, Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology, The University of Queensland, Power and Water Corporation, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, and Aquatec Maxcon - CRC-P: Transforming Wastewater Treatment in Regional Australia 
This project developed a low-cost solution to transform inefficient sewage treatment ponds into self-contained environmental assets. At the heart of the project was the integration of two technologies: Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) reactor and High Rate Algae Pond (HRAP) as an improvement on the current Waste Stabilisation Pond (WSP) based treatment.  

Highly Commended
Townsville City Council, E2 Design Lab and Alluvium Consulting and other contributing organisations - Bohle Catchment Water Quality Offsets Project 

Organisational Excellence Award:  
Fulton Hogan Utilities – Schools STEM and Industry Immersion Program 
Recognising the importance of STEM for our Industry, Fulton Hogan Utilities has long been an industry partner delivering STEM Problem Based Learning. This year, in conjunction with their first STEM Problem Based Learning Program in Queensland, Fulton Hogan Utilities undertook a holistic approach to introducing an industry immersion learning experience for various students.  

Highly Commended
Redland City Council and Hindsite Industries – Treatment Plant Virtual Classrooms 

Infrastructure Project Innovation Award (REGIONAL):  
AECOM, Townsville City Council, Beca HunterH2O, Evoqua Water Technologies, and Monadelphous Engineering – Cleveland Bay Purification Plant Process Upgrade Project 
The Cleveland Bay Purification Plant Upgrade Project was proudly funded by Townsville City Council and the Queensland Government. This complex and technically challenging project was successfully delivered by adopting an innovative nine-phase project delivery strategy to mitigate time, cost, environmental and quality risks and shall provide a positive legacy for future decades.  

Infrastructure Project Innovation Award (METRO):  
Logan Water Partnership: Logan Water, Downer, WSP and Cardno now Stantec and ARENA - Australia's First Biosolids Gasification Facility 
Logan Water has pioneered an Australian-first – a facility that transforms biosolids into renewable energy and sustainable biochar. Biosolids gasification destroys chemicals like persistent organic pollutants and micro and nano-plastics while reducing carbon emissions by about 6,000 tonnes annually. It also saves operating costs and creates a new revenue stream for Logan City.  

Student Water Prize (Sponsored by Fulton Hogan):  
Zhigang Yu, The University of Queensland - Novel Disinfection to Combat Antibiotic Resistance  
Zhigang Yu is a postdoctoral research fellow from the Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology (ACWEB), The University of Queensland. He aims to unveil the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance emergence and spread in both environmental and clinical settings and to develop novel, efficient disinfection technologies for drinking water and wastewater treatment.  

Young Water Professional of the Year (sponsored by Xylem):  
Johanna Johnson, Sustainable Solutions Lead, Logan Water 
Johanna Johnson is shaping the future of the Australian water industry. As Logan Water's Sustainable Solutions Lead, Jo demonstrates ways to achieve carbon-neutral operations, eliminate contaminants in wastewater, and transform biosolids into energy and useful biochar. Jo is passionate about her work and industry and gives her all.  

Water Professional of the Year (Sponsored by KSB):  
Emma O'Neill, Manager - Environment & Planning, Aurecon 
Emma O'Neill is recognised internationally as a leader in sustainable water management. Her perspective is highly sought after to inform a range of water projects. She works across the water cycle, focused on climate change, sustainability and people, and is known for transformational leadership and constructively challenging the status quo.  

The Australian Water Association congratulates all the award finalists and winners and thanks our sponsors, Stantec, KPMG, Water Research Australia, Fulton Hogan, Xylem and KSB, for their support of this event and these important industry awards.