By Luke D’Anello
YOU won’t see Des Horton waste a drop of water.
The 52-year-old, who works at Sunshine’s City West Water as a water conservation specialist, has spent much of his life encouraging others to save the precious resource.
Mr Horton has been instrumental in helping regulatory bodies establish national standards, including the Smart Approved WaterMark and the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme.
Those achievements were recognised when Mr Horton was named as a finalist in this year’s savewater! awards in the Australian Achiever category.
Mr Horton, who is one of three finalists, was nominated by his work colleagues.
“I was surprised and pretty happy. It was a pleasant surprise to actually find out I had been entered in it, let alone be made a finalist in it,” Mr Horton said.
“I’ve been involved in previous awards – and these same awards – before on the judging panel, so I know there’s a fair bit of work people put in to actually put the nominations together.
“It’s a one in three chance (to win) and I’m surprised to be there.”
Mr Horton started his career at Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, which later became Melbourne Water.
The first steps towards a national mandatory labelling system were taken during the mid-1980s, and Mr Horton played a key role.
When asked what he was most proud of, Mr Horton said: “I think the involvement in the WELS scheme, because it’s something that can give everyone a bit of a benchmark.
“It has raised the level of prominence of water efficiency in everybody’s thinking.
“Years ago, my thoughts were that it would be good if we could get the water usage to drop at about the same rate as the rise in population growth. Then we would have people using no more water across Melbourne.
“It’s obviously become more critical than that over the last 10 or 12 years with the drought in most of the country, which has certainly affected Melbourne’s water storage.”
Mr Horton has also spoken to school groups, councils and sporting bodies in previous years to encourage smart water use and contributed to the development of National Water Week, which is held in October each year.
The winners of the savewater! awards will be announced on 12 November.
By Luke D’Anello