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Queensland’s most innovative celebrated at water industry awards

The winners of the Australian Water Association's (AWA) Queensland Water Awards were announced at the Queensland Gala Dinner on 13 September at the Hilton Brisbane. 

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

AWA President Carmel Krogh attended the dinner and congratulated all finalists and winners for their hard work and outstanding achievements. 

“It is inspiring to see such a diverse mix of award finalists from local government, academia and the private sector,” Krogh said. 

“This year, we have seen research around iron salt use in urban water systems, maximising energy recovery, and understanding emerging environmental contaminants. 

“We have seen projects that are showcasing innovation in real-time water quality monitoring, asset and infrastructure upgrades, and water treatment. 

“Through their active involvement in the Queensland water sector, our young water professionals are demonstrating an extraordinary capacity to take our industry into the future with enthusiasm and passion.

“Our water professionals continue to be exemplary role models for our younger water professionals, particularly for their willingness to share their learnings, their efforts to raise awareness of water challenges to other sectors and the community, and their active support of the Association’s Queensland Branch. 

“The Australian Water Association would like to congratulate all finalists and winners who all embody our purpose to inspire and drive a sustainable water future.” 

A number of this year's Queensland Water Award winners will go on to represent the state in the national Australian Water Awards, which will be presented at the AWA's annual water conference and exhibition, Ozwater’20 in Adelaide on 5-7 May 2020. 

The winners

Research Innovation Award

An Integrated Approach to Iron Salt Use in Urban Water Systems – University of Queensland, Queensland Urban Utilities, Seqwater and WaterRA

This collaborative research project demonstrates that iron salts can be reused across drinking and wastewater treatment, generating multiple benefits for water service providers. Through integrated urban water management, the reuse of iron salts leads to major economic, environmental and social gains.

Program Innovation Award (servicing under 250,000 end users)

Smart Catchments: Saltwater Creek – Cairns Regional Council

This program, led by Cairns Regional Council, has delivered innovative new technology to monitor water quality data in real time. By sharing this data through a publicly accessible online platform, Cairns residents are being inspired and encouraged to support sustainable healthy water in the region and help protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Program Innovation Award (servicing over 250,000 end users)

Autonomous Motorised Monitoring Instrument – Seqwater

The Autonomous Motorised Monitoring Instrument known as SAMMI is a revolutionary robotic system to improve water quality monitoring on remote and hard to reach water storages. SAMMI can operate day or night, rain or shine, and fulfil all the sampling and monitoring requirements previously undertaken by human crews on the storages.

Infrastructure Project Innovation Award (servicing under 250,000 end users)

Townsville CBD Utilities Upgrade – BMD Constructions, Townsville City Council and GHD

BMD Constructions, together with Townsville City Council and GHD, have delivered one of Townsville’s largest utility upgrades installing approximately 20 kilometres of water and sewerage pipework which replaces mains up to 60 years old. The project improves the capacity, efficiency and maintenance of services ensuring the sustainability of the city into the future.

Infrastructure Project Innovation Award (servicing over 250,000 end users)

Going Green at Kenilworth – Unitywater

Unitywater effectively upgraded its Kenilworth Sewage Treatment Plant using existing ideas in new ways. Its innovative design of low-tech floating treatment wetlands that mimic natural wetlands, combined with a solar power array, provides a low-tech, low-cost, low-impact solution that avoided the usual concrete-and-steel capital investment.

Regional Service Award

Arron Hieatt

In his role at the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), Arron Hieatt represented the interests of local governments regarding their provision of water and sewerage services to over 350 communities in Queensland. In addition to speaking with elected members of local government, he worked with managers, operators, and other staff to understand the issues affecting the industry. Hieatt was instrumental in the success of the Queensland Water Regional Alliance Program and a strong advocate for safe water supply to all Australians. He has been a trusted advisor to the Queensland Branch for many years and was an active and supportive sub-committee member.

Distinguished Service Award

Matt Dawson

Matt Dawson has over 20 years of experience in the water sector and is recognised as an outstanding leader in the industry through his work at TRILITY. Dawson served as a member of the Queensland Branch from 2010 to 2019, with two of these years served as state president. During his time on the AWA committee, Dawson revolutionised the way events are done in Queensland. He saw the conferences as not just events, but a way to unite our ever-changing industry. Dawson was instrumental in the support of the North Queensland conference, which has now become a highlight on the calendar. Dawson is a true advocate of the industry, never missing an opportunity to raise community awareness of the issues facing our industry and he is an inspiring role model for young professionals.

Student Water Prize

Unravelling Roles of Emerging Environmental Contaminants in Promoting the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance – Ji Lu, The University of Queensland

Lu is a final year PhD student whose project provides evidence for the risk assessment on the impact of non-antibiotic antimicrobial. His project suggests the need for the water industry to establish non-antibiotic antimicrobial control strategies. Lu’s project may also enlighten future research on the potential impact of broad-ranged non-antibiotic chemicals on the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Young Water Professional of the Year Award

Aidan Symons, Senior Engineer, Water Infrastructure, SMEC

Aidan Symons is a natural leader who is respected and revered by his colleagues and friends. His professional achievements in design management, multidisciplinary design coordination and remote teaming are exemplary. Symons’ personal contribution to the water industry greatly exceeds that of most professionals his age. He is actively involved in the AWA as a long-time member and Young Water Professions (YWP) sub-committee member and as Chair of the YWP National Taskforce. Symons’ efforts in developing mentoring programs demonstrate his enthusiasm to engage and empower the next generation of industry professionals and we are thrilled to announce Symons as Queensland’s 2019 Young Water Professional of the Year.

Water Professional of the Year Award

Daryl Ross, Acting Director, Road and Water Infrastructure, Logan City Council

Daryl Ross is one of the quiet achievers of the Queensland water industry; a calm, strategic, compassionate voice across his 43 years as a water engineer and leader. Among his many achievements, he helped create the first non-statutory regional plan for South East Queensland, led the strategic response to the Millennium Drought, and transformed two water businesses. Ross' willingness to share learnings with the broader industry is having an immediate and lasting impact on our sector. He is a very deserving recipient of the 2019 Queensland Water Professional of the Year.

The Australian Water Association wishes to congratulate all the award finalists and winners and thank our generous sponsors for their support of these important industry awards.