The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) announced The Native Water Network as the winner of its inaugural innovation seed funding of $5000 at the Water Innovation Lab event, which took place in Melbourne last week.

The Native Water Network is a team of six from Australia, Canada and the United States. Their innovation aims to resolve the problem of the absence of traditional knowledge and people in mainstream water governance and management decisions, often resulting in biased policies and potentially poor decisions.

The team have a long-term plan, starting with a water clean-up day where the indigenous community can share their water stories, knowledge and connection to water with water industry professionals.

In return, professionals will share their industry knowledge with indigenous communities. This two-way exchange should raise awareness of pathways and careers for indigenous people in the water sector and broaden the knowledge of those already in the sector.

The water clean-up day will be held concurrently in countries including Australia, Canada and the United States and will include knowledge transfer between indigenous communities from different locations around the world using an online platform.

Through their innovation, The Native Water Network team are contributing to the future skills of the water sector, making the sector more enticing for future entrants and bringing together communities from many different backgrounds to connect to water and contribute to solving long-term industry challenges.

The Water Innovation Lab, which is a global initiative of the Canadian NGO Waterlution, was brought to Australia for the first time last week. The event saw close to 50 participants attend, including engineers, entrepreneurs, graduate students and researchers from over 10 countries.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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