Recipients announced for 2019 Clearwater Water Leader Scholarships

Clearwater is excited to announce our 2018 Clearwater Water Leader Scholarship recipients. Our six emerging water leaders from across the state will spend the next 9 months strengthening their ability to exert influence, drive change and advance challenging integrated water management projects.

Congratulations to Darcy Meehan, Jackie Bowe, Justin Hinch, Liam Sibly, Richard Lovett and Sarah Wright!

The successful candidates bring a diversity of skills and backgrounds, and this program will facilitate exchange of information and expertise between key organisations in the water industry. 

This is a fantastic opportunity and Clearwater is thrilled to be working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and offer these scholarships to support the delivery of Water for Victoria, the Integrated Water Management Framework and associated IWM Forums.

Read on below to find out more about our scholarship recipients' motivations, challenges and expectations.

Clearwater Water Leader Scholarship Winners  

Darcy Meehan, Project Engineer, Southern Rural Water

What motivates you in your current role?

In my current role I am motivated by the understanding that the project I am working on will provide immediate long term benefits to farmers in the Bacchus Marsh region. The improved service capacity and water savings provided by the new semi automated pipeline network will allow for viable farming to continue in this area for the foreseeable future.

What major leaderships challenges you currently face?

Major leadership challenges I currently face are:

  • I have limited exposure to how complex decisions are made within the water industry.
  • Implementation of innovative ideas can be slow and met with resistance in long standing organisations.
  • I see conflicting interpretations of high performance and how striving for that impacts on the motivation of individuals within our organisation.
  • Silo effects in a geographically wide reaching organisation creates a barrier to how willing people are to share information and ideas.

How do you think the Water Leadership Program will benefit you in your role?

I see my involvement in this program will build the skills that are required to work within SRW and other organisations to recognise opportunities that provide more reliable, fit for purpose water to the Victorian agriculture industry.


Jackie Bowe, Integrated Water Management Coordinator, Wannon Water

What motivates you in your current role?

I am motivated by the potential of collaboration to create better ways of doing things. I am motivated by seeing good things happened due to the relationships I help facilitate. The promise of integrated water management.

What major leaderships challenges you currently face?

My role in fostering IWM is really about challenging the way things are done.

How do you think the Water Leadership Program will benefit you in your role?

I hope that the leadership program will give me insight into where to start with inspiring people and helping them feel authorised to consider a different way of doing things.


Justin Hinch, Coordinator Infrastructure Planning, City of Greater Geelong

What motivates you in your current role?

I am actively contributing to the planning and management for Victoria's largest regional council, and am involved in policy development, strategic planning and new collaborations across the water sector. This not only provides me with a great opportunity to build my capacity as a leader and in change management, but will benefit greater transition to sustainable and resilient communities.

What major leaderships challenges you currently face?

Like many governments across Australia and internationally, managing stormwater is becoming an increasing challenge. Some of the issues we face include flood risks, which are likely to increase with predicted impacts of climate change; lack of a clear authority in legislation; managing the City growth; coordinating development; ageing infrastructure; predicted budget shortfalls; lack of a clear coordinating authority; poor information about our network; and no clear process for handling requests for service.

How do you think the Water Leadership Program will benefit you in your role?

Our vision for the City of Greater Geelong is to become a leader in managing stormwater and serve as an example for all regional councils to follow. We have a series of actions planned that will address planning to manage stormwater more effectively; improving what we know about our network; establishing a systematic way to prioritise work; and improving customer satisfaction and communication. My team and I are now leading a review of the City's Flood Management Plan and will develop the City's first Stormwater Service Strategy in the next 12 months.


Liam Sibly, Senior Water Strategy Officer, City of Greater Bendigo

What motivates you in your current role? 

Helping Bendigo transition to a water sensitive city in the context of a drying climate and a growing population, where the city is projected to have half the water and double the population by 2050, so there is a need to continually innovate and lead change.

What major leadership challenges you currently face? 

Facilitating a cross-agency team that is responsible for implementing the transition to a water sensitive city. Obtaining internal buy-in and commitment from a large organisation, as my workplace provides a diverse range of services and has many competing demands.

How do you think the Water Leadership Program will benefit you in your role? 

Increase my skills and confidence to tackle complex challenges and lead cross-agency teams. Build my networks with water professionals who are facing similar challenges, so we can share experiences of what is working and what is not. Receive advice from a water industry mentor, about how to approach leadership challenges. Receive honest feedback from my peers (via 360 survey) and a mentor, which will allow me to play to my leadership strengths, cover my weaknesses and identify areas for improvement. I'm really looking forward to being pushed by the IWC, so that I can grow to be the best possible leader I can be. 


Richard Lovett, Process engineer, Melbourne Water

As a process engineer in Melbourne Water’s Integrated Planning group, I am privileged to work with skilled and passionate people on fascinating challenges in wastewater treatment.  

Historically, wastewater treatment has focused on the protection of environmental values and public health.  More recently, as an industry we have recognised the potential to achieve broader benefits in areas such as renewable energy generation, recycled water supply and resource recovery.  Furthermore, treatment technologies are rapidly developing, presenting opportunities to innovate and to drive the maximum value from existing assets by using them differently.

These opportunities are exciting, and demand an ability to challenge the status quo, to drive change, and to collaborate across a range of groups and disciplines.  As such, I am excited and grateful to have the opportunity to undertake the IWC Water Leadership Program.


Sarah Wright, Treatment Support Advisor, Western Water

What motivates you in your current role? 

A number of things motivate me in my current role. The work I am currently doing has meaning to it, and it affects a number of stakeholders, both within the business and outside of the business. I enjoy building relationships with others, frequent interaction and being able to work together best determine the way through a problem. I discuss a lot of the work I do at fortnightly meetings which then helps define what actions need to be taken to best suit the needs of Western Water, its customers and the environment.

What major leaderships challenges you currently face? 

In my previous role, I was a recycled water lab tech/operator. I currently still do a lot of work with both drinking water operators and recycled water operators. A major challenge is getting the operators to not just see me as another operator, but as someone who has some leadership and influence abilities. As I do not currently lead a team, I feel that another major challenge will be learning how to effectively lead a team, eg. team building/development, providing support and team management.

How do you think the Water Leadership Program will benefit you in your role? 

A main part of my role includes managing the available water and recycled water resources within our catchment. Decisions need to be made that best suit the environment and our customers, and I think this program will help by teaching me to be more effective at influencing and learning how to drive change when needed. I have been identified as having leadership potential by my General Manager and I believe that participating in this program will help me achieve this as well as broaden my career opportunities and the value I can add to the business.