Home > Webinar | Free-living organisms in drinking water

Webinar | Free-living organisms in drinking water

Jun 8, 2021 12:00pm to 1:30pm

The latest research about Naegleria and Legionella will be presented during this Webinar.

Recent decades have seen an increase in concern about disease risks associated with opportunistic microbial pathogens which could, if not adequately controlled, pose health risks to humans, ranging from illness to death. Originally more relevant to the subtropical and tropical areas in Australia, our warming climate combined with an increase in population now demand that we take a closer look at the circumstances that could foster the promulgation of these microorganisms in our drinking water supply systems in other parts of the nation.

Join us for a for this webinar to hear from key Australian experts on how micro-organisms such as Legionella, Naegleria fowleri and Burkholderia pseudomallei need to be – and can be – controlled in fresh water, especially in drinking water. Detecting these organisms in water distribution networks and mitigating their proliferation in the right places at the right time are some of the most important decisions water utilities can make to protect their customers. WaterRA is excited to showcase hot-of-the press research on the topic presented by Dr. Geoff Puzon (CSIRO), Dr. Mirjjam Kaestli (Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University), Dr. Harriet Whiley (Flinders University) and Dr. Joanne O’Toole (Monash University).

Please note all times listed are in Sydney time


Dr Harriet Whiley |  Dr Harriet Whiley is a senior lecturer in Environmental Health and leader of the Water Quality and Health research consortium at Flinders University. As an environmental microbiologist her research is aimed at informing the environmental health profession of best practice to protect human health from pathogens present in the environment. She has over ten years experience researching opportunistic waterborne pathogens and is passionate about informing improved risk management strategies to control manufactured water systems and prevent Legionnaires disease.  
Dr. Mirjam KaestliDr Mirjam Kaestli is a microbial ecologist working in the Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Unit (ECMU) at the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL), Charles Darwin University and at Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, Australia. She holds a PhD in molecular microbiology and a MSc in biostatistics. Her main research interests are the source tracking of microbial signatures in recreational and drinking water and the distribution of the melioidosis agent and opportunistic pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei in the anthropogenic environment of northern Australia. Mirjam has co-authored 73 publications in international, scientific journals, a book chapter on the occurrence of B. pseudomallei in the environment and she has been the plenary invited speaker for the environmental melioidosis section at two recent World Melioidosis Conferences. In recent years, she has been dividing her time between providing biostatistical consulting and focusing her research on analysing the occurrence of B. pseudomallei in the water catchment and water supplies of the Top End. 
Dr Geoff Puzon | Dr Geoffrey Puzon is a senior research scientist and Team Leader of the Resource Sector Biotechnology Team in the Industry Environments Program at the Commonwealth and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Dr Puzon has spent the past 15 years working on drinking water treatment and distribution microbiology, biofilm, pathogens, and microbial ecology. Along with his students, Dr Puzon's work identifies and develops research targeting the role of microorganisms in complex systems such as drinking water distribution networks and subsurface aquifers. His team takes a laboratory and field based microbiological approach to provide real world answers to complex problems using both microbiological and Omics techniques. His research team also engages in broad multidisciplinary, collaborative national and international projects to integrate microbiology with chemistry, hydrology and modelling, thus providing a more complete understanding. Dr Puzon is currently collaborating with researchers from USGS, Montana State Univ, Univ of Georgia, University of Sheffield (UK) and Washington State Univ. Dr Puzon’s work has received multiple awards, most recently the 2020 Australian Water Association Award for R&D Excellence (WA Branch).
Dr. Joanne O’Toole | Joanne O’Toole has over 35 years’ experience as a water microbiologist, consultant for government and private industry organisations and researcher. She has worked in the areas of laboratory management and accreditation and has represented government and water industry bodies on Australian Standards committees. She was a technical assessor for the National Association of testing Authorities (NATA), Australia during the period 1988 – 2010, and a member of NATA Biological Accreditation Advisory Committee (1998-2010), including in the position of vice chair.  She commenced her research career in 2004 at Monash University and was awarded her PhD in 2009. She works in the Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and is a former member (2015-2018) of the NHMRC Water Quality Advisory Committee. Her research interests and publications include investigation of alternative water use, exposure assessment, use of health-based targets in water quality regulation, evaluation of WASH interventions, and capacity building in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on laboratory operation. Since 2018 she has been working on a study funded by the Wellcome Trust ‘Revitalising informal settlements and their environments' in Fiji and Indonesia.


Please note: the webinar will commence at 12:00pm (Sydney Time) running for approximately 90 minutes and will include presentations followed by Q&A.

Full details including links to the webinar platform will be sent to registered attendees.

The webinar will be recorded and the recording will be provided to registered attendees within 7 business days after the event.

Our member rate is for WaterRA members only. Not sure if you're a member? Check our member listing here



Cancellation and Refund Timetable 

5 or more working days before the event

Cancellations will recieve a 100% refund 

4 or less working days before the event

No refunds will be issued however registrations are transferable, refer to name change details in policy

No fee will be charged for non-attendance by members





Information Summary

Event Type:Webinar
From:Jun 8, 2021 12:00pm
To:Jun 8, 2021 1:30pm
Availability:All welcome
Event Coordinator:Jo Ohlmeyer
Phone Enquiries:+61 8 7424 2445

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