People Stories

For the health of the community

Author: Careers at Council

Read time: 5 min read

Q&A with Claire Cam – Manager Water and Sewer, Mid-Western Regional Council.

With a career spanning 20 years, Claire Cam chats to us about her career journey, what her current role entails and what keeps her engaged and energised two decades on.


Q. Can you share a bit about your background and how you got into the water industry in local government?

 A. I grew up in Bathurst, not far from Mudgee, and pursued a dual degree in natural resource management, combining science and engineering. I was always interested in geography and natural sciences, which led me to explore water-related subjects during my university years. My first job in water was at Wyong Shire Council which was a part of my university placement. I worked part-time during my studies, eventually leading to a one-year placement that extended until I finished university.


Q. You spent a year working in private practice in Sydney – how did you know that it wasn’t for you?

A. Yes, when I graduated from university, I applied for a graduate position with an engineering consultancy in Sydney. Unfortunately, because it was an entry-level graduate position, it was predominantly office-based. I had already worked for a couple of years in local government during my studies, so I knew that I could be doing so much more – more variety and more interesting work. I spent a year in Sydney and then I applied for a job back with Wyong Shire Council in their water and sewer team.


Q. What roles have you held throughout your career, and what does your current role entail?

A. When I returned to Wyong, I took on roles like Asset Engineer and Design Engineer, working my way up to become the Water and Sewer Manager at Mid-Western Regional Council. My time there exposed me to diverse aspects of water and sewer management. I gained significant hands-on experience and had parts to play in high-profile projects like the Mardi-Mangrove Link Pipeline, one of the largest water infrastructure projects on the NSW Central Coast.

In my current position at Mid-Western Council, my main responsibility is ensuring a healthy community by providing a safe drinking water supply and maintaining a clean local environment.

I oversee strategic planning, budgeting, and day-to-day operations related to water and sewer services. I also collaborate with the planning department on infrastructure for new subdivisions. I report to our executive team and deliver presentations to the council and councillors about what we’re doing. Because we manage a drinking water management system and a dam safety management system, we’ve got a lot of legislative responsibilities so there’s a lot of regulation to be aware of and to be compliant with.

That component is all office based obviously, but I then spend time with my team of operators and technicians out in the field. This helps keep my technical knowledge up to date as well – that’s the exciting part of the job.  I’m actively involved in troubleshooting and providing technical advice, and I enjoy the opportunity to be hands-on during incidents and emergencies, actively assisting my team.



Q. What does success look like in your role?

A. A successful week in my role is where I’ve had consultation with my team. I can get stuck in reporting and budgeting, so a great week for me is being out in the field at the treatment plants, consulting with operators, making improvements to our processes. These improvements might be technical improvements but could also be creating efficiencies for the team that will have a positive effect on the community as well.

Success is also understanding that we’re in control and better managing risks associated with supplying water to our community. And, equally the process in making sure that the resulting effluent back to the river system is also clean and not offensive or degrading to the environment.

I also really enjoy working with the community on the education side of things – we’re trying to change that mindset of ‘water is just expected to come out of the tap’ to ‘water is a precious resource that needs to be looked after.’ So, we’re trying to think about the positive water stories and turn them into positive community communication.


Q. How do you see the future of water management, especially in the area of recycled water?

A. I’m keen on exploring recycled water use opportunities. Aligning with regional energy zones and collaborating with developers to provide construction water in our region could be a stepping stone into recycled water. While recycled water for human consumption is in early policy development, I believe it’s a direction we will move towards over time.


Q. What is your approach to ongoing training, learning and development?

A.Starting with fieldwork and gradually taking on management roles, I’ve found that on-the-job experience is vital; training is not all about a degree qualification or being in a classroom. Twenty years in the water industry and the practical experience has been a big part of why I’m still here, and why it’s still interesting to me.

Beyond technical engineering skills, management and leadership skills have become essential to my role. The training opportunities provided by councils, including Mid-Western, have played a significant role in my development.

I also really value the expertise I can tap into through the Orana Water Utilities Alliance, a group of 13 councils with responsibility for water and wastewater management across western NSW. There are so many industry professionals within this Alliance, and we get together in person every second month to discuss challenges, and the potential for collectively resolving issues, or collaborating to create efficiencies in what we do for our communities. You learn so much at those meetings – it’s really inspiring.


Q. What would you say to someone considering a career in the water industry in local government?

A. I’d say come and do work experience here at local government – we love sharing our experience with school leavers. There is so much pride that our team has in showing a new person the ropes. Get in there and experience it! Once you’re in the workplace, whether you’re here for a day, a week or longer term, you’re going to get so much information about what your next steps can be in local government.

Seeing the outcome of what you’re doing each day is really satisfying. In the water industry, the work you’re doing has real purpose and meaning – and it’s all for the health of the community.


Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re looking for a role that will utilise your significant experience and skills – there’s so much on offer in the local government water industry. Discover more here

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