Water Resources Minister John Kobelke said today that he was thankful for the contribution made by Water Corporation chief executive officer Dr Jim Gill, who yesterday announced his intention to retire at the end of the year.
Dr Gill joined the then Water Authority of Western Australia in March 1995 and was given the responsibility of creating a corporatised entity, the Water Corporation, which was established in January 2006.
He was appointed the inaugural managing director (which later was changed to CEO) and is the only leader the organisation has had.
Mr Kobelke said Dr Gill’s foresight into climate change played a pivotal role in securing WA’s water supply for the future.
“Dr Gill identified very early on in his tenure that the alarming decline in run-off from the catchments into the dams supplying Perth with about 60 per cent of its drinking water requirements was in fact a permanent change,” the Minister said.
“He correctly forecast that this would create serious water sources issues that needed to be addressed immediately.
“Dr Gill’s response was to direct the corporation to fast-track water sources, earmarked to be established years into the future, to be brought forward to the present with careful planning.
“At the turn of the century, he also encouraged his people to look seriously at the possibility of seawater desalination on a large scale - the rest is history.
“A combination of fast-tracked water sources, demand management initiatives and other actions, including the first seawater desalination plant in Australia, ensured that Perth stayed green with only a two days a week sprinkler roster.
“This at a time when Eastern States capitals have had total sprinkler bans in the face of climate change that actually hit the south-west corner of WA earlier and harder than in Eastern Australia.
“The successful commissioning of the nation’s first seawater desalination plant in November 2006 has now driven Eastern States governments to bring forward their own plans for these plants.
“That is a fantastic legacy and the reason why Dr Gill is a pre-eminent national figure in the Australian water industry.”
Mr Kobelke said he had spoken with Water Corporation Board chairman Patrick O’Connor to begin the process of selecting a new CEO.
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