The importance of finding a ‘why’ for collecting water quality data

Fyans Creek at Grampians Road. Photo: Bryana Bissett

Mentee: Bryana Bissett – Wimmera Catchment Management Authority
Mentor: Kirsten Knight – Yarra Valley Water

Our goals:

The main goal of this program was to find a ‘why’, so that the water quality data collected monthly throughout the Wimmera catchment could be useful and relevant to the local community. Bryana and Kristen both wanted to use the water quality data tell a story and, through this approach, make a linkage between the data being collected and the community.

Workshop one in Warrnambool. Photo credit: Simone Moriarty

Our actions:

Kristen and Bryana met for the first time in Warrnambool and instantly clicked, with their laid-back attitudes and enthusiasm for the program. Bryana’s first step was to find a ‘why’ for her project so that she could  narrow down her ideas, while Kristen helped to guide her through this process.

A few catchups face to face to continue the conversation saw Kristen make her way west to Dimboola, where Bryana showed her the water quality monitoring sites and sampling process. In their discussions, Kristen and Bryana realised that they needed the community to tell them the ‘why’, as they are the ones the project was trying to reach.

Bryana engaged with Waterwatch volunteers to get an understanding of what the community would want to know. The ‘why’ then became evident, as the data would be useful to improve farming practices along waterways, providing an opportunity to learn more about catchment health and to spark interest throughout the community.

Bryana and Kristen moved onto the ‘how’, which was to upload all the water quality data onto the Wimmera CMA Interactive Map.  This tool is a web-based map which displays the sampling locations and enables users to download the current and historical data from each individual site.

Click here to view Wimmera CMA Interactive Map.
At the second in Warragul, the pair got creative, making a diorama that represented their twinning journey so far – note the speed zones, stop signs and selfie stick!

Diorama of Kristen and Bryanas twinning journey. Photo credit: Simone Moriarty

Bryana then braved the traffic down to Melbourne to visit Kristen and hadan eventful two days at Yarra Valley Water; visiting a recycled water treatment plant, eating dumplings and learning skills for successful community engagement.

Bryana and Kristen’s family met up again in Halls Gap and indulged in waffles and coffee, where we discussed work, twinning in Bali, platypus surveys and upcoming holidays. Before the final workshop in October the water quality data was successfully uploaded to the Wimmera CMA Interactive Map.

Breakfast catchup in Halls Gap, Grampians in August. Photo credit: Kirsten Knight

Key program learnings and outcomes:

  • Learnt that no question is a stupid question, and getting a second opinion on ideas is undoubtedly valuable
  • Vulnerability is ok
  • To always start with ‘why’

How did the twinning partnership assist the project?

The Twinning Program was based around planning and implementing project outcomes. This enabled Bryana to find her feet in project management with guidance from Kristen and no the ability to adapt and change outcomes as the project developed.

What did I gain personally from the Waterway Management Twinning Program?

The Twinning Program helped me gain confidence in project management and in my job position. I was able to openly communicate and clarify the next steps of the project with Kristen. The strong communication allowed us to check each other’s blind spots and visualise a path.

Having a mentor throughout the project allowed me to explore various project ideas and bounce them off her to receive honest and valuable feedback. ‘Chatham House Rules’ applied so we were able to discuss our careers and lives openly. This was comforting, as I was new in the water industry and Kristen was able to give me career guidance and listen to my journey thus far.

– Bryana

The Twinning Program was a way for me to Pay It Forward from all the wonderful mentors I have had in my career to date. Our mentoring partnership was definitely not a one-way transaction, we both learnt from each other, the other participants and the facilitated sessions. Additionally, the great breadth of participants enabled me to broaden my horizons in the water industry and meet some more of the many wonderful and passionate people we have working to protect and enhance our waterways.

– Kristen


Bryana Bissett –
Kirsten Knight –

Join the Twinning Program

The Waterway Management Twinning Program is a structured mentoring program, focusing on improving the on-ground delivery of current Victorian riparian restoration projects. This Program provides an opportunity for the most effective approaches to be shared and adopted between all those working in waterway management across the State.