The winners of the IXOM Victorian Water Taste Test and the Victorian Operator of the Year have been announced at the Water Industry Operators Association (WIOA) Conference and Exhibition in Bendigo.

The event, which took place between 31 August and 1 September 2016, named water from North East Water’s Myrtleford treatment plant as the best tasting water in Victoria, and selected Rylee Duffus from Westernport Water as the Operator of the Year.

The Victorian WIOA conference is held annually in Bendigo, and brings together engineers, operations, maintenance staff, and water and wastewater treatment plant operators from Victorian water corporations, as well as interstate and overseas.

Industry professionals were also joined by scientists and water industry suppliers to discuss issues around the operation and maintenance of urban, rural and industrial water related infrastructure.

North East Water Executive Manager Operations John Day said the water for the taste test was judged by industry peers.

“The winning sample was taken from the Myrtleford treatment plant and was judged on aroma, clarity and taste before it was announced as the state’s best,” Mr Day said.

“It’s amazing recognition and reflects the hard work by all of our local operators who make sure we provide customers with the best possible product.

“The Corporation recognised in 2010 of the need to improve Myrtleford’s water quality and invested in a new water treatment plant.”

Mr Day said the plant has not only improved the quality of water but is also helping the town’s ongoing development and tourism.

“The competition puts a spotlight on the friendly rivalry among water providers across the state and we now look forward to representing the state against the rest of Australia,” Mr Day said.

Operator of the Year winner Mr Duffus is the Treatment Plant Operator at Westernport Water’s Ian Bartlett Water Purification Plant in Candowie Reservoir.

Mr Duffus started working with Westernport Water in June 2015 and is currently completing a certificate IV Water Operations and a Bachelor of Business Management, adding to his nine years experience in the water industry.

“It was a honour and privilege to receive this recognition within the water industry,” Mr Duffus said.

“All of the staff at Westernport Water strive to deliver excellent service and drinking water to our customers. I would like to thank Westernport Water for the support they provide their staff. They are a great organisation to work for.”

Nominees were required to demonstrate a continued high level of performance, initiative and all round attention to detail in the execution of their duties as a water, wastewater, or recycled water plant operator.

Westernport Water’s Managing Director Peter Quigley said, “What Rylee has been able to achieve and implement in such a short period of time at Westernport Water is directly reflective of his high level of skill and dedication.

“The impact on a business such as ours has been remarkable, as demonstrated in our water quality results.”

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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