Operator of the Year

Wal Whiteside Award

This is one of the most prestigious award on offer at the Victorian conference with the award presented continuously since 1980. The award is presented to operators of water or wastewater treatment facilities to recognise excellent performance, initiative and all round attention to detail.


Nominations are sought annually from Water Authorities and water companies throughout Victoria for operators who meet the following criteria:

  • Nominees should be working in Victoria and should have direct responsibility for operational decisions at community water, sewer or recycled water systems / networks and/or water, wastewater or recycled water treatment plants or industrial water or wastewater plants.
  • Nominees should have demonstrated a continued high level of performance, initiative and all round attention to detail in the execution of their duties.

Sumbitting your nomination

Nominations should be submitted electronically in Word or PDF format. They must include the following information:

  • 2017 Operator of the Year Award – Nomination Form
  • An executive summary outlining the main reason for the nomination (maximum 500 words)
  • Detailed information introducing the nominee and addressing the criteria (maximum 4 A4 pages)
  • Photo (jpg or similar format)
  • Biography (minimum 180 words, maximum 300 words)
  • Two letters of reference

The completed applications are judged by AWA and the winner of the Victorian Operator of the Year Award is announced at the WIOA Conference Awards Dinner annually.  The winner receives a perpetual trophy for his or her organisation to keep for 12 months plus a personal trophy to keep.

Victorian Operator of the Year - Honour Roll

Year Conference Venue Wal Whiteside
Victorian Operator of the Year
2016 BENDIGO Rylee Duffus
2015 BENDIGO Steve Letcher
2014 BENDIGO Colin Mynott
2013 BENDIGO Stephen O’Keeffe
2012 BENDIGO Nick Stuart
2011 BENDIGO Greg Comer
2010 BENDIGO John De Boer
2009 BENDIGO Steve Hunter
2008 BENDIGO Jeff Roscoe
2007 BENDIGO Owen Roberts
2006 BENDIGO Rod Curtis
2005 BENDIGO Simon McCracken
2004 WODONGA Peter Tolsher
2003 SHEPPARTON Gerrard Barry
2002 GEELONG Paul Keating
2001 BENDIGO Roland Passuello
2000 WARRNAMBOOL Neil Healey
1999 WODONGA Russell Mack
1998 SHEPPARTON George Wall
1997 BAIRNSDALE Ray Crilly
1996 GEELONG Sean Meehan/Phil Keady
1995 MULWALA Barry Waddell
1994 MELBOURNE Colin Sandeman
1993 BALLARAT John Harris
1992 BENDIGO Wayne Murdoch
1991 SALE B.Cook
1990 HAMIILTON Mark Closter
1989 SHEPPARTON Peter Waddell
1987 RINGWOOD John Phyland
1986 WODONGA T.Hanna
1985 SWAN HILL Len Morris
1984 BAIRNSDALE C.D’Herville
1983 MELTON L.Wyhoon
1982 Mt ELISA R.Emmet/E.Jones
1981 MILDURA Sue Lefevre
1980 GEELONG Stan Franzi

Wal Whiteside

Wal was a stalwart of the Engineers & Operators Conference and was very highly regarded by both operators and engineers. He was recognised in 1992 with the AWA Service Award and 1993 with an Order of Australia.

Young Operator of the Year

Sponsored by IWA (Victoria)

This award, generously sponsored by the Institute of Water Administration (Victoria) is designed to provide encouragement to young water industry employees by recognising excellent performance, initiative and all round attention to detail.

The IWA as award sponsor sends a letter to all Water Corporations and other employers of operators within Victoria annually, requesting they nominate “operations staff” to be considered for the Award.

To be eligible for consideration the nominees:

  • Must be employed in the Victorian water industry and be aged under 30 years
  • Must have been employed in the water industry for less than 5 years

Nominations are judged on the basis of submissions from employers covering:

  1. Commitment to and demonstrating a strong OHS ethic in all work performed
  2. Commitment to undertaking training and then implementation of skills learned into the workplace
  3. Commitment to team work and following enterprise SOP’s etc
  4. Commitment to meeting Corporation and regulatory requirements in the course of all work
  5. Demonstrated use of initiative or suggestions leading to efficiency or safety improvements
  6. Any other relevant industry based achievements.

The completed applications are judged by an independent panel and the winner of the IWA Prize receives a perpetual trophy for his or her organisation to keep for 12 months, a personal trophy to keep permanently, as well as an all expenses paid trip to an overseas water conference.

IWA (Victoria) Prize Honour Roll

Year IWA Prize Winner 
2016 Will Egan – South Gippsland Water
2015 Ben Marsden – Wannon Water
2014 Jacob Bright – South Gippsland Water
2013 Aaron Mitchell – East Gippsland Water
2012 Glen Sheekey – Gippsland Water
2011 Michael Wright – Veolia Water Australia
2010 Andrew Cooper – Goulburn-Murray Water
2009 Lee Franke – North East Water
2008 Adrian Rijnbeek – EGL Operations
2007 Craig Atwell – Wannon Water
2006 Jason McGregor – Central Highlands Water
2005 Jarrah Feather – East Gippsland Water

Best Operator Platform Paper – Victorian Conference

Sponsored by Nalco Water

Thanks to the generous support of Nalco Water, these are presented at the Victorian, Queensland and New South Wales events annually. The awards are offered as an incentive to encourage “grass roots” operational staff to share their knowledge and experience. To be eligible, the author must NOT hold a tertiary (Bachelor level) qualification.

WIOA selects a number of judges at each conference who watch all the presentations made over the two days. They score each of the papers based on:

  • The content and layout of the written paper;
  • The originality of the ideas portrayed;
  • The use of visual aids during the presentation;
  • The verbal presentation and whether or not the author sticks to the allotted time; and
  • The demeanor of the presenter including how well they answer any questions.

At the completion of the paper sessions, the scores are tallied and the winners determined.

1st Place:  Travel, accommodation and a full delegate registration to attend another WIOA conference in Australia to deliver the paper again (to the value of $1,750)
2nd Place: Complimentary delegate registration (non-transferrable) to a WIOA conference of their choice within the next 12 months (valued at $550)
3rd Place:  Complimentary delegate registration (non-transferrable) to a WIOA conference of their choice within the next 12 months (valued at $550)

Honour Roll - Victoria Platform Papers

Year  First Second Third
2016 John deBoer
Melbourne Water
Vin Halloran & Daniel Fitzpatrick
Yarra Valley Water
Steven Newham
Goulburn Valley Water
2015 Peter Tolsher
North East Water
Lincoln Thomson
& Gwyn Hatton
Barwon Water
Daniel Haworth
2014 Steven Newham
Goulburn Valley Water
Neville Whittaker
Goulburn Valley Water
Andrew Barnett
Water Infrastructure Group
2013 Jarrah Feather
East Gippsland Water
Peter Murphy
Yarra Valley Water
Daniel Haworth
2012 Mick Clewes

North East Water

Aaron Sewell

North East Water

Rhett Chapman

Yarra Valley Water

2011 Darren Sharman
Goulburn Valley Water
Wayne Shaw

Gippsland Water

Peter Field
Central Highlands Water
2010 Tony McKean

East Gippsland Water

Wayne Shaw

Gippsland Water

John Day

Goulburn Valley Water

2009 Greg Comer

North East Water

Gwynn Hatton

Barwon Water

Bert Pynappels

GWM Water

2008 Rex Humphreys
North East Water
Russell Mack
Gippsland Water
Craig Griggs
Kingborough Council, Tas
2007 John Cameron
Southern Rural Water
Greg Hall
Goulburn Valley Water
David Reyne
Central Highlands Water
2006 Jason McGregor
Central Highlands Water
Paul Balassone
Melbourne Water
Ian Syer
us‘ – Utility Services
2005 Jarrah Feather
East Gippsland Water
Jason Whittaker
Goulburn Valley Water
Jeff Nock
Aqwest WA
2004 Jason Whittaker
Goulburn Valley Water
Bruce Tyler
North East Water
Jason McGregor
Central Highlands Water
2003 John Day
Michael Naughton
Barwon Water
Neil Healey
Goulburn Valley Water
2002 Anthony Evans
South West Water
David Reyne
Central Highlands Water
Jeff Roscoe
North East Water
2001 Wes Wittick
Western Water
Len Ablett
Gippsland Water
Roland Passuello
North East Water
2000 George Wall
Goulburn Valley Water
John Harris
South West Water
Gavan Keir
Goulburn Valley Water
1999 Peter Tolsher
North East Water
John Berkelmans
South East Water
No prize awarded
1998 Russell Mack
Gippsland Water
John Day
Aust. Newsprint Mills
Phil de Groot
North West Water, SA
1997 Neil Healey
Goulburn Valley Water
John Berkelmans
South East Water
Chris Andrew
Nestle, Tongala
1996 Sean Meehan
Barwon Water
Ross Barton
Barwon Water
Peter Ebner
Lower Murray Water
1995 Dene Denny
Barwon Water
George Wall
Goulburn Valley Water
Stephen Wilson
1994 Ray Watson
Gippsland Water
Ray James
Gippsland Water
1993 George Wall
Goulburn Valley Water
Ray James
Gippsland Water
Graham Abbott
Gippsland Water
1992 Wayne Murdoch
Coliban Water

Best Platform Paper Overall – Victorian Conference

Hepburn Award – Sponsored by Iwaki Pumps Australia

This prize is an Open category award with all Platform paper presenters eligible to win. By using the votes from the platform paper judges, the presenter with the highest number of votes will receive the Hepburn Award for the Best Paper Overall at the conference.

As well as an engraved plaque, Iwaki Pumps Australia generously award  a laptop computer valued at $1,500 to the winner.

Hepburn Prize Honour Roll - Victoria

Year Conference Venue Hepburn Prize
2016 BENDIGO Ben Pohlner
Wannon Water
2015 BENDIGO David Greaves
Barwon Water
2014 BENDIGO Alister Laidlaw
North East Water
2013 BENDIGO Catherine Huf
Wannon Water
2012 BENDIGO Mei-Leng Yau

Parsons Brinckerhoff

2011 BENDIGO Darren Sharman
Goulburn Valley Water
2010 BENDIGO Kathy Northcott

Veolia Water Australia

2009 BENDIGO Greg Comer

Goulburn Valley Water

2008 BENDIGO David Errey

Yarra Valley Water

2007 BENDIGO Mark Samblebe

Gippsland Water

2006 BENDIGO Jason McGregor

Central Highlands Water

2005 BENDIGO Mark Jarvis

Melbourne Water

2004 WODONGA Jason Whittaker

Goulburn Valley Water

2003 SHEPPARTON John Day

Norske Skog

2002 GEELONG Anthony Evans

South West Water

2001 BENDIGO Andrew Chapman
2000 WARRNAMBOOL Michelle Colwell

Gippsland Water

1999 WODONGA David McKenzie
1998 SHEPPARTON Kimberley Davies

Goulburn Valley Water

1997 BAIRNSDALE Peter Smyth
1996 GEELONG Sean Meehan
1995 MULWALA Dene Denny

Barwon Water

1994 MELBOURNE C.Schulz
1993 BALLARAT George Wall

Shepparton Region Water Authority

1992 BENDIGO Wayne Murdoch

Bendigo Water Board

1991 SALE R.Wrigley
1990 HAMIILTON John Park

Water Training Centre

1986 SWAN HILL Ron Bergmeier

Bendigo Water Board

1983 MELTON John Anderson
1982 MT. ELIZA K Brown
1981 MILDURA Sue Lefebvre
1980 GEELONG Carl D’Herrille
1979 BALLARAT David Orbell
Melton Sewerage Authority
1978 MMBW OFFICES R. Emmett
1977 BENDIGO Lindsay Whitelaw
1976 MMBW OFFICES N. Phyland
1975 MMBW OFFICES Stan Franzi & F.Manning

About E.A. Hepburn

First appointed to the Public Health Department as Assistant Inspector and Engineer and promoted to Sanitary Engineer, later classified as Chief Engineer. He was the convener and delivered the first paper at the First Annual Conference Sewerage Engineers and Operators titled Standards of Design for Reticulation Sewers

Best Operator Poster Award – Victoria

Sponsored by Trility

It was recognised some time ago that not all “operations” staff feel comfortable with the idea of standing up in front of their peers and delivering a platform presentation. Others have an idea or a project they have completed which does not provide sufficient information to allow for a written paper and a 20 minute presentation. For these reasons, a Poster Paper section was introduced into the program for the various WIOA conferences.

The Posters use the same qualifying rules as the Papers (non-Bachelor qualified). Each poster author is required to do a short (5 minute) description of their poster in a more relaxed atmosphere on Thursday afternoon. They must also answer any questions about the poster.

Bachelor qualified water professionals are also invited to enter a poster for information sharing however, they will not be eligible to win the prizes.

At the completion of the poster judging session, the winners are determined and the winners of the Best Poster Papers will be awarded an all expenses paid opportunity to attend an Interstate WIOA conference (to the value of $1,750)

Best Operator Poster Paper Prize Honour Roll - Victoria

Year  First Second Third
2016 Dale Hogan
Goulburn Valley Water
Andrew Povey
Wannon Water
Damian Peterson
Western Water
2015 Noel Roulston
Westernport Water
Justin Bourke
North East Water
Leigh Cheshire
North East Water
2014 Aaron Mitchell
Wannon Water
Stephen Burns
GWM Water
Russell Sunderland
Goulburn Valley Water
2013 Ben Marsden
Wannon Water
Rylee Duffus
Gippsland Water
Adam Bauerle
Goulburn Valley Water
2012 Matthew Brown
Barwon Water
Daniel Priddle
Barwon Water
Grant Chivers
Veolia Water Operations
2011 Terry Watt
East Gippsland Water
Geoff Enever
Goulburn-Murray Water
Daryl Nish
us‘ – Utility Services
2010 Ian Syer

‘us’-Utility Services

Tony McKean

East Gippsland Water

Chris Spokes

Goulburn Valley Water

2009 Peter Tolsher

EGL (Operations)

Sean Doyle

Barwon Water

Bill Mackrell

Wannon Water

2008 Trevor Hayes
Western Water
Barry Dullard
Heath Vine
Goulburn Valley Water
2007 Dale Yeates
Gippsland Water
Andrew McPherson
Coliban Water
Rachael Lawlor
Goulburn Valley Water
2006 John Day
PowerWater NT
Tim Tanner
Goulburn Valley Water
Bob Millar
GWM Water
2005 Barry Waddell
East Gippsland Water
Belinda Streader
Goulburn Valley Water
Lou Wilson
us‘ – Utility Services
2004 Karl Williams
South Gippsland Water
Helen Friend
GWM Water
Ron Peters
South East Water
2003 Gerrard Kavenagh
Barwon Water
Jamie Madgwick
Goulburn Valley Water
Peter Huggins
Goulburn Valley Water
2002 Len Ablett
Gippsland Water
Wayne Mumford
Gippsland Water
Wayne Reither
Goulburn Valley Water
2001 Trevor Gordon
Goulburn Valley Water
Neil Collins
Goulburn Valley Water
Wayne Shaw
Gippsland Water
2000 Ken Turner
Gippsland Water
Ben Evans
South East Water
Karen Weatherill
Goulburn Valley Water
1999 Karen Weatherill
Goulburn Valley Water
Richard Greenhough
Barwon Water
Wes Wittick
Western Water
1998 Ray James
Gippsland Water
Paul Keating
Gippsland Water
Peter Marshall
Gippsland Water

Ixom Victorian Water Taste Test

Sponsored by Ixom

2017 Ixom Victorian Water Taste Test

The search for the the best tasting water in Victoria?

The Ixom Victorian Water Taste Test is a fun and exciting way to raise awareness of the quality of Victoria’s drinking water and to recognise the efforts of local water service providers in delivering valuable water services to their communities.

The award for the Best Tasting Water in Victoria in 2016 was judged and presented as part of the WIOA Water Operations Conference & Exhibition where Northe East Water was announced as having the Best Tasting Water in the State for the sample sourced from the Myrtleford Water Treatment Plant.

The 2017 event will again be conducted at the WIOA Victorian Conference and Exhibition to be held in Bendigo with entries needing to be at the Bendigo Exhibition Centre by 4pm on Tuesday 5 September 2017.  The winner will go on to represent Viuictoria in the National Championships to be held in Launceston Tasmania on 18 October 2017.

Ixom 2017 Victorian Water Taste Test Entry Form

2016 – North East Water – Myrtelford WTP
2015 – Goulburn Valley Water – Marysville WTP (Also won 2015 Autralia’s Best Tasting Tap Water)
2014 – South Gippsland Water – Leongatha WTP
2013 – East Gippsland Water – Bairnsdale WTP
2012 – Coliban Water – Bendigo WTP

About the Ixom Victorian Taste Test


  1. All water businesses in Victoria are invited to participate in the IXOM Victorian Water Taste Test.
  2. Each water business is asked to nominate one preferred sample for inclusion in the competition.
  3. Where businesses operate multiple water supply systems, the decision regarding which water sample to enter is left up to each water business.
  4. All entries must have incurred no serious state or federal drinking water violations during the past year*.


  1. Samples must be submitted by 4.00pm on Tuesday 5 September 2017 in a clearly marked container with the name of the water business it represents and the location/town from where the sample is derived.
  2. We require 2 litres of the sample water which must be provided in sealed glass containers.
  3. Samples need to be delivered to the conference venue at room temperature. Cooled samples will not be admitted.
  4. Samples will be served at room temperature, to help the judges better taste, appreciate and rank each sample.

Competition Judging


  1. Heats will be conducted at the WIOA Welcome Reception held on the afternoon (from 4.45-6.00pm) of Tuesday 5 September 2017 at the Bendigo conference venue.
  2. The competition will be divided into heats, with entries placed in each heat randomly drawn by WIOA staff.
  3. Each heat will have a heat co-ordinator.
  4. Heat judging will be undertaken by guests at the welcome reception who shall taste all samples and select their most favoured water sample by giving it one vote.
  5. The sample with the most votes will be judged the heat winner and the winner will proceed to the Grand Final to be held on the main stage during the conference lunch break on Wednesday afternoon.
  6. In the case of a tie i the heats, the winner will be chosen by the heat co-ordinator from those that are tied.
  7. The four Grand Finalists will be announced on the Tuesday evening and we would appreciate a representative from each business being available for the main judging on Wednesday and at the winners presentation at the Awards Dinner on Thursday evening.

Grand Final

  1. As with the heats, the origin of each sample will not be revealed. The samples will be judged by a panel nominated by WIOA comprising technical water experts and water industry connoisseurs.
  2. Samples will be judged on a point scale from good to best.
  3. Scores will be aggregated and the winner will be the sample with the highest combined score. The winning water business and water supply location will be announced at the lunch on Wednesday and the presntation made at the WIOA Conference Awards Dinner on Thursday night.
  4. Only the identity of the four grand finalists and the supplier of the winning sample will be announced – Grand Final or Heat samples will not be ranked, nor will any of the scores be released.
  5. The decision of the judges is final.

*A “serious” water quality incident includes protracted periods of poor water quality or boiled water alerts, an event leading to immediate potential public health risks or other break-down of risk-management protocols.

For more information, please contact Craig Mathisen at WIOA on 03 5821 6744, mobile 0457 846 008 or email craig@wioa.org.au