Last year qldwater established a charitable venture that seeks to help address urban water and sewerage challenges facing small and remote communities. The Queensland Water Regional Communities Innovations Program (QWRCIP), administered under the auspices of qldwater with a steering committee made up of members of its Technical Reference Group, aims to provide professional development opportunities to members with fewer than 10,000 connections.
QWRCIP was funded by corporate sponsors through the “vendor pitch” session at the qldwater Annual Forum in September, and successful candidates enjoyed a week-long immersion in all things urban water related, including time spent with an SEQ utility to learn more about specific equipment or implementation of programs of interest. It also included access to WIOA training workshops, plant audits with Peter Mosse and attendance of all tours and presentations.
One of the scholarship winners, Central Highlands Regional Council Assistant Water Engineer Nathan Litzow, said the program and the opportunities it provided were very helpful for his growth in the water utilities team.
“It was an intense period of learning, networking and participation that will continue to offer benefits to both myself and in turn to council,” Nathan said.
For the first two days of the program, Nathan enjoyed the hospitality of the City of Gold Coast’s (CoGC) Water and Waste directorate where he spent time with the network reliability team learning about assets management challenges around budgeting, reproducing good work programs and improving poor ones.
“We also discussed the bigger event challenges like those related to withdrawing from Allconnex – the jointly-owned distribution and retail entity at a cost of more than $80 million and many other losses in terms of asset management and history,” Nathan said.
“Other topics included the effects of Ex Tropical Cyclone Debbie and planning for the Commonwealth Games.”
Nathan visited a vacuum sewerage system in the north end of the Gold Coast, learning about new technology, maintenance issues and the rewards yielded from an increased network of vacuum monitoring sensors.
He also spent time in the 24 hr operations room, watching and learning from the operators and their supervisor.
“Total network monitoring is not only vital for the Council to operate their assets and react to issues, but it seems to be a source of pride for the team to showcase the big picture view.”
Nathan marvelled at the size and scale of the Water and Waste directorate, with product officers specialising in either wastewater, recycled water or drinking water as well as a conflicts officer that deals with internal and external projects that may affect or conflict with Council’s water and waste water infrastructure.
The second part of Nathan’s week was based in Brisbane with a technical tour, presentations, forum and group meetings over three days.
“It was very informative and rewarding to visit historic and current infrastructure hidden in plain view around the CBD and eastern suburbs.”
“There was a wide variety of topics presented at the Annual Forum but highlights to me were technologies and investments that can defer or reduce increased capacity capital costs and the panel sessions with the regulators (Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Department of Science.) These sessions gave insight into how other perspectives impact on our regulatory journey and there were some current examples of how some utilities are working differently with the guidelines to achieve the same outcome.”
Nathan finished off his scholarship program attending a qldwater Technical Reference Group (TRG) meeting.
“The TRG allows the Queensland Water Directorate to filter member feedback from a diverse group and provides guidance on its direction and initiatives. The big picture guidance and industry shaping discussion was a motivating way to finish my program.”
“I will be recommending and encouraging others from this council and other qualifying councils to apply for a scholarship in the coming years. The time away from your day job can be very rewarding for those who participate and for their employers.”