The Water Industry Operators Association of Australia (WIOA) is a national not-for-profit association with the primary role of facilitating the collection, development and exchange of quality information between people undertaking operational roles in the water, wastewater and recycled water industries.

For many years, the association has been conducting water industry operations conferences and exhibitions across Australia.

These have grown to become much-anticipated events for the operators and water industry stakeholders as a vehicle to keep up to date with the latest information, technologies and solutions.

The association is a great network for anyone who is responsible for carrying out operations and maintenance within the water industry.

As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, face-to-face meetings and events have come to a halt, but that has not stopped this progressive association from looking at innovative ways to support its members and provide the valuable networking opportunities that belonging to an industry association brings.

New virtual water conference and expo initiative

In the absence of opportunities for face-to-face events, WIOA is excited to announce a new virtual conference and expo platform – Virtual Water.

Virtual Water is a visually rich and highly interactive 3D virtual experience that recreates the feel of a physical event.

Members and stakeholders from all over the country will come together to hear the latest updates, share knowledge and technical information, and learn from the experiences of a range of presenters.

The platform will also enable the opportunity to present a number of awards to provide operational staff with the recognition they deserve, including running the very successful water tasting competition.

Live conference days highlight knowledge sharing

WIOA will host a minimum of ten “live days” on the platform, with the first occurring on Wednesday 22 July 2020.

Live days will include keynote and technical presentations where speakers will deliver engaging and informative content, and facilitate two-way conversations through question and answer sessions.

The first live day will include a keynote presentation from internationally-renowned researcher, educator, communicator, author and tireless advocate for scientific excellence and safe drinking water, Dr Steve Hrudey from Canada.

Steve has a strong commitment to empower all those who operate and oversee water systems, advocating the need for education, effective regulation and monitoring, and the need for operators to “know their own systems” to minimise the potential risks to safe drinking water.

The Intelligent Water Network (IWN) will also host two live days for the benefit of its members. IWN Program Director, Dean Barnett, said, “We have been working with WIOA for many years, with the best interest of our water industry being front of mind.

“We regularly share information on the IWN Program with WIOA and showcase new processes or technology solutions with the frontline operations staff.  We see this as another innovative way we can share information as part of our program.”

All WIOA members will receive free access to the sessions on each live day, with each presentation chosen for its operational focus or being of interest to operators. To register, click here.

Expo showcases the latest in water industry innovation

Virtual Water will include an expo which will provide corporate members the opportunity to showcase their products and services in a virtual environment, simulating a live conference with exhibitors engaging with the attendees from their virtual expo booths.

Exhibitors will be able to provide information to attendees through videos, PDF or other brochures as well as by chat, audio, messaging and email functions.

The expo booths and their content will not only be available on the live days, they will stay on the Virtual Water platform for 365 days, and the sites will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

WIOA Managing Director, George Wall, said, “Due to the forced cancellation of our conferences, we have initiated the online platform to provide our members access to some of the technical information that they would have been exposed to at the face-to-face events.

“The Virtual Water platform will also provide the opportunity for the operators to seek out new products and services, and keep up to date with the latest and greatest from the suppliers to our industry.

“Providing opportunities for operators to connect with suppliers helps them build a network of contacts they can call on when needed, and allows the suppliers the chance to showcase their new solutions that otherwise would go unseen.”

Virtual Water is easy to navigate and provides a captivating experience – attendees only need access to the internet and are not required to download anything. Virtual Water is mobile compatible and works on all modern browsers.

Support for the event continues to grow with all the available sponsorship opportunities snapped up the day they were released.

WIOA would like to thank and acknowledge the support of the current sponsors: Intelligent Water Networks, Alternative Lining Technologies Australia, Thermo Fisher Scientific Australia, Southern Divers, McBerns Innovative Solutions, Piping & Automation Systems, Endress+Hauser, Hydroflux, Yokagawa, Bergmeier Environmental and Acrodyne-Limitorque.

Expo sites are now on sale and all corporate members and suppliers to the water industry are encouraged to support WIOA by purchasing an expo booth. More information can be obtained from

Recognition for the stars of the sector

WIOA will also use the live days to recognise the contributions made to the industry by numerous operational employees, announcing the annual Operator of the Year Award winners for each state.

The popular Ixom Best Tasting Tap Water competitions will also be conducted, with winners from each state announced on the live days.

Cultural Recognition Award

The Kwatye Cultural Recognition award recognises outstanding contribution to supporting diversity and fostering inclusion in the workplace or community.

The award focuses on those who have gone above and beyond to further inclusion, connection and belonging for co-workers, members of the community and people from disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

Spirit of Australia Awards (Mateship)

This new award for 2020 will celebrate the Australian spirit of mateship. It is this compassion and kindness that WIOA wants to recognise in what has been a very difficult year with drought, fires, floods and a pandemic.

WIOA encourages everyone to share stories and submit nominations to acknowledge people who have supported others during challenging times.

Each state winner will have $500 donated to a charity of their choice, courtesy of award sponsor TRILITY.

WIOA is currently accepting nominations for the Kwatye and Spirit of Australia Awards.

This partner content is brought to you by WIOA. For further information on all the happenings at WIOA, contact Craig Mathisen on 0457 846 008 or email

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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