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Mayor, Councillors and staff congratulate our Water and Wastewater staff who presented papers and received awards at the Water Industry Operators Association (WIOA) state conference in Logan on 3 and 4 August 2022. Water and Wastewater Operator, Tim Merrett’s presentation was recognised as the Best Paper by an Operator, while Water and Wastewater Manager, Shaun Johnston was recognised as delivering the Best Paper Overall, receiving the Brian Davis Award.

‘We are very proud of our staff receiving these industry awards, which raises Council’s profile as a small regional organisation, giving us gravitas when dealing with other councils and the State and Federal governments.  It also provides staff an opportunity to showcase their skills and be rewarded for their proactive efforts, while providing exposure to other viewpoints and other ways of doing things, that leads to improvements in the way Council works’, Mayor Hotz said. 

During the two-day event, approximately twenty, 20 minute presentations were given in total and our staff successfully delivered challenging material, which was potentially confronting to the establishment. The papers focused on the overwhelming inefficiencies and paradoxes being created by city-centric development of regulations and standards, citing clear examples of how these sometimes make it impossible to do Council work, and always adding complexities not easily addressed in regional locations.

Congratulations are also due to Shaun Johnston who was more recently recognised for his extraordinary support of the Water Directorate, on 7 September 2022, at qldwater’s Annual Forum, held on the Gold Coast. Shaun has always worked to make our compliance with existing legislation better and easier. About 14 years ago he led a small team that developed a database solution to the heavy reporting load placed upon Water Service Providers (WSPs) under both State and Federal Regulations. When qldwater received a grant to do the same thing, he facilitated their use of our Water and Wastewater team’s Intellectual Property, to give qldwater a kickstart in their efforts. Qldwater were able to put our database in the cloud, and today, SWIMLocal is used by all WSPs in Queensland to complete their data reporting requirements for all government bodies.

‘Our staff receiving this award shows that just because we are a regional council, does not mean we cannot make a big difference with our work. By cultivating the desire to make a difference, we can do this on a wide scale, as well as the local scene we work directly in’, said Mayor Hotz.

The Water and Wastewater team are very busy with “business as usual” operations. Like many parts of the organisation, the team is currently short-staffed, which impacts on their capacity to deliver water and sewerage services for the community. Council continues to strive to provide excellent service, with reduced resources.

The Water and Wastewater team have some exciting projects underway this year. A new water treatment plant for Biggenden and general water quality upgrades across all our water treatment plants (funding pending) are at the top of the list.

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