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Celebrating women and girls in science at Melbourne Water

Melbourne Water supplies Melbourne with some of the best drinking water in the world, but it also delivers a wide range of important community projects that attract some of the country’s leading scientific minds, and many of those roles are filled by women.  

As we commemorate International Day for Women and Girls in Science, the water industry is rich with talented, innovative females who, with their passion in science, are committed to making the world a better place.    

Currently, 34% of total roles are filled by women across the water industry*. At Melbourne Water, 40% of employees are female with women accounting for over 60% of the executive leadership team and Board.   

As part of International Day for Women and Girls in Science, we’re proud to introduce some of the women at Melbourne Water who are making a difference, by sharing their stories and achievements.  

Aislinn Prendergast taking bird scat samples from the Silvan Outlet Tower as part of the effort to continuously review the pathogen risk in our catchment.
Aislinn Prendergast taking bird scat samples from the Silvan Outlet Tower as part of the effort to continuously review the pathogen risk in our catchment.

This year, Melbourne Water is recognising the work of Aislinn Prendergast, Area Lead of the Quality and Process Improvement team, and Dr. Mellisa Steele, Drinking Water Quality Improvement Program Lead – both within Water Supply which is part of the wider Service Delivery group - who ensure we have enough water today, tomorrow and for generations to come.  

A chemical engineer by trade, and in the process of completing a Masters of Water, Wastewater and Waste Engineering, Aislinn Prendergast plays a considerable role in ensuring Melbourne Water continues to deliver safe and affordable drinking water.  

Currently involved with the construction of the Winneke UV plant - which will use ultraviolet light to provide improved resilience to water treatment and disinfection, she’s also contributed to the Winneke Fluoride and the Silvan and Cardinia Chlorine upgrades, from both an asset management and water quality perspective. 

“Being involved with, or driving, these major capital projects has given me a huge range of experience, taught me so much about different aspects of water supply, and given me the chance to connect with some pretty amazing people,” Ms Prendergast said.  

“I love the work at Melbourne Water, it’s given me the chance to solve interesting scientific problems and questions on a daily basis. Whether it be the best way to track chlorine in our network or how to manage the risk of birds around our reservoirs, there’s always a different challenge and different aspects of science to learn.” 

Another leader in the world of science and engineering is Mellisa Steele, who studied science at university followed by a Masters in Water and Environmental Health Engineering and then a PhD specialising in biological filtration for drinking water.  

Dr. Steele has worked on hundreds of projects throughout her career, including conducting sanitary surveys across all of Melbourne’s

Mellisa Steele
Mellisa Steele

drinking water supply catchments and the management of drinking water quality risk. She’s also been involved in treatment plant design and worked on the Victorian Desalination Plant project – an important part of Melbourne’s water supply.  

Presently, Dr. Steele is overseeing the delivery of Melbourne Water’s Drinking Water Quality Improvement Program which will increase the resilience of Melbourne Water’s water supply system from catchment to customer.  

“I love working at Melbourne Water as it provides a multitude of technically challenging projects, some at the forefront of science, with the opportunity to work alongside and collaborate with so many experts,” Dr. Steele said. 

“The work that has been the most rewarding, and of which I am most proud, has been seeing my knowledge and experience capacity build others, particularly when this, in turn, influences the outcome of a project for the better.” 

Melbourne Water offers a wide range of exciting roles across its Service Futures, Service Delivery, and Service and Asset Lifecycle teams - to name a few - that attract female professionals to the organisation with a background in the sciences.  

If you have an interest in the water industry, are passionate about delivering innovative projects that support Melbourne’s water supply and the local community, and, like Aislinn and Mellisa, want to make the most of your science studies, visit the careers page on the Melbourne Water website to view the current roles.   

*Supplied by WSAA 


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