The 2021 Australian Water Awards were held on Tuesday 4 May at the Ozwater’21 gala dinner, where there were 223 nominations across ten categories.

Dr Annette Davison was announced as the winner of the Water Professional of the Year award.

Dr Davison, the Principal and Director of risk assessment and management company Risk Edge, had previously been recognised as the New South Wales Water Professional of the Year. She is also the founder of D2K Information, a water quality monitoring and information company.

Dr Davison said she wanted to use the award to help young water professionals enjoy the best that the water sector has to offer.

“While this is an individual award, I’ve really stood tall on the shoulders of others and the many people who have supported me over my career,” Dr Davidson said.

“It’s a real honour to receive this award.”

The prize for Young Water Professional of the Year was given to Simon Roberts, Senior Integrated Water Management Planner at Victoria’s City West Water. 

Mr Roberts received this award in recognition of his commitment to delivering transformational change in the water sector through leading major Integrated Water Management (IWM) projects, such as the Werribee Recycled Water Expansion, for which he helped secure a $2 million Victorian Government grant.

Mr Roberts also represents City West Water on the Western Growth IWM project which addresses urgent water and development challenges. He has also been instrumental in driving the Our Future Cities program which brings diverse students together to develop interdisciplinary solutions to real-world water and development challenges.

Mr Robert’s passion and focus lie in developing innovative water management practices to foster a sustainable water future for everyone.

“It’s a real honour to accept this award. While it’s an individual award, all my achievements have been delivered in collaboration with others across the water sector and beyond. I look forward to sharing this success with them as we continue to create a more inclusive and sustainable water future,” he said.

The inaugural Customer Experience Award, which aims to recognise organisations with a strong culture of providing excellent customer experience and value for customers, was taken out by Barwon Water for its customer experience program.

Barwon Water’s nomination for the award included the improvements it has made to its customer support program, call handling, and communications and engagement with its customers and community.

Managing Director, Tracey Slatter, said it was a proud moment for Barwon Water to be recognised for its commitment to its customers.

“Our staff really care about our customers and the region they work in,” Ms Slatter said.

“As part of our customer experience program every staff member made an ‘I care, We care’ personal commitment to how they could make a difference in their day-to-day work.

“We’re also working hard to continuously improve what we do to make it easier for customers to connect with us as well as working more efficiently so we can continue to keep bills affordable.

“Thank you to our customers too for the feedback they provide that helps us improve every day.”

The judges also wanted to give high commendations to Icon Water’s efforts to re-establish its connection with the community and Southern Rural Water’s MID2030 Modernisation Program.

Aqua Metro Services and Melbourne Water’s Wara Paring Indigenous Civil Construction Project received the Organisational Excellence Award. This project is an entirely Indigenous-owned training initiative that provides training and employment opportunities in a culturally safe environment to support Aboriginal businesses in the water industry.

The achievements of First Nations peoples were also recognised with the Infrastructure Project Innovation Award, won by Power and Water Corporation’s Ngukurr Leak Reduction Project.

Providing the Ngukurr Aboriginal community with a sustainable water supply, the success of this project permitted more funding to address leaks in other remote Aboriginal communities in the region.

Winner of the Student Water Prize was Zhiyao Wang from the University of Queensland, who best captured the joy and enthusiasm of the evening.

Recognised for her work developing a novel process for efficient nitrogen removal from wastewater, Yang commended the inspiring research of all the nominees in the category.

“Through this conference, I can see the future revealing itself through each of the water professionals,” Ms Wang said.

“I’m so happy to be part of it.”

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