Water sector’s best celebrated at Gala Dinner
A spectacular 360-degree stage formed the centrepiece of Thursday night’s Australian Water Awards, where the brightest talents of the Australian water community were celebrated.
The highlight of the Ozwater’23 Gala Dinner, the ANZ-sponsored awards recognised winners in 11 categories, and culminated with the announcement of Ian Law as Water Professional of the Year.
Law, the Principal at IBL Solutions, was celebrated as an internationally recognised and awarded thought leader.
“He is described as the embodiment of professional excellence in urban water solutions, an ambassador for the water industry and is dedicated to building a secure water future for all,” heard the more than 1300 water professionals gathered for the ceremony.
Law’s acceptance speech reflected his good humour and his passion for the water industry.
“We are all water professionals of the year. Young and old, we come to work each day and we strive to make our water supply secure for everybody – and safe,” he said.
“I'm blown away by this award. I've been in the industry a long time, and you are all – we are all – very lucky to be working in it. It is an absolutely fantastic opportunity.”
Working in advanced water management, Law has been involved in projects in Singapore and the US, as well as domestically. He has published widely and has served on the Research Advisory Committee of the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence, as well as being appointed as a fellow of the Singapore Water Academy.
Jacobs Senior Process Engineer Chelsea Hayward claimed the Young Water Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by Xylem, and was recognised for her achievements in bettering the lives of all through access to clean water and sanitation.
“Young people have an important role to play in driving action towards a sustainable water future,” she said.
“To the young water professionals in the room, I encourage you to speak up, make some noise and share your perspectives.
“And to the more experienced professionals, please reach out to the young people in your networks and help bring their voices to the table. Together we can work together to create positive change in the water industry and beyond.”
Innovation and excellence
Other categories saw recognition of separate metro and regional awards for Infrastructure Project Innovation, both of which were sponsored by SMEC.
The New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment, Clarence Valley Council and Ecoteam were recognised with the regional award for the Jubullum Aboriginal Community Water Project, while The Logan Water Partnership’s Biosolids Gasification Facility won the metro prize.
An Australian-first, the Logan facility transforms biosolids into renewable energy and a sustainable biochar, destroying chemicals like persistent organic pollutants and micro and nano-plastics, while reducing carbon emissions by about 6000 tonnes a year.
If the awards night demonstrated the impressive state of the contemporary water industry, it also assured the sector that its future was bright. An enthusiastic and deeply passionate Mikayla Rodger was awarded the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her research into an eco-friendly solar technique to eliminate cyanobacteria.
A student at Sydney’s Meriden School, Rodger developed the SolarCyanoSlayer, which eliminates the reproduction of cyanobacteria in standing and eutrophicated water bodies using solar-powered circulation, filtration and oxygenation.
“My love of science began at a young age: questioning, exploring and discovering, and applying these discoveries to the world around us to solve some of our biggest issues,” Rodger said.
“For all seven billion of us, water is an issue – an issue that we are united by.”
Check out the full list of winners below:
R&D Excellence Award (sponsored by Water Research Australia)
Goyder Institute Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Research Program
SA Department for Environment and Water, Flinders University, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, and other contributing organisations
Organisational Excellence Award (sponsored by Hydroflux)
Activating South Australia’s Reservoir Reserves for Recreation
Infrastructure Project Innovation Award (Regional) (sponsored by SMEC)
Jubullum Aboriginal Community Water Project
NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Clarence Valley Council and Ecoteam
Infrastructure Project Innovation Award (Metro) (sponsored by SMEC)
Australia’s First Biosolids Gasification Facility
The Logan Water Partnership: Logan Water, Downer, WSP in Australia, Stantec, and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
Water Industry Safety Excellence Award (sponsored by WSAA)
Epsom Main Sewer Relining
Customer Experience Award (sponsored by WSAA)
Leak Alert Program
South East Water
Best Water E-Journal Paper – in Honour of Guy Parker
Evaluating and Comparing Circular Economy options in Yarra Valley Water’s 2030 Strategy
Lisa Ehrenfried, Jodie Bricout, Tim Grant and Francis Pamminger
Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize (sponsored by Xylem)
Mikayla Rodger from Meriden School NSW
Student Water Prize (sponsored by Guidera O’Connor)
Turning Waste into a Resource: Developing Novel End-Use Pathways for Water Treatment Sludge
Minh Duc Nguyen, Deakin University (VIC)
Young Water Professional of the Year Award (sponsored by Xylem)
Chelsea Hayward, Senior Process Engineer, Jacobs
Water Professional of the Year Award (sponsored by Eurofins)
Ian Law, Principal, IBL Solutions
Congratulations to all the 2023 Australian Water Awards winners.