Water savvy engineering graduate wins award for his water sensitive urban design

Jo La Spina, Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Masters of Engineering (Hydrology and Water Resources)

Giuseppe La Spina

Engineering graduate, Jo La Spina, who is one of South Australia’s first engineers of water sensitive urban design (WSUD), has been recognised for the quality of his work, winning the 2015 Institute of Public Works Engineers Australia SA Division Professional of the Year award.

Joe, who works for Wallbridge and Gilbert Consulting Engineers, has designed many water sensitive projects in Adelaide. He says it was a real surprise to win the award but is grateful to be recognised by his peers.

“I had no idea I had been nominated for the award, and was quite surprised when my name was read out at the awards presentation. I’m grateful that my work has been acknowledged by the Civil Engineering industry”, Joe says.

Joe calls himself a ‘Green Engineer’, and says his work is a mix of delivering environmental outcomes and civil engineering.

“I explain my job as a mix of engineering and caring for the environment. WSUD is about integrating the urban water cycle, including stormwater, into the planning of urban design and infrastructure”, he says.

Joe’s design work includes the Adelaide Zoo, Victoria Square Redevelopment, UniSA’s M2 building at Mawson Lakes and Springwood Wetlands. Joe’s work has also revived a plant species on the brink of extinction.

“I’m proud to say I have completed a range of projects in this area. One of my first projects was at Aldinga beach, where my design discharged stormwater into a conservation park to reinstate water flow, bringing back a plant species that was thought to be extinct”, Joe says.

Joe also took his passion to his home, installing water sensitive design techniques throughout his house, which drove his peers to nominate him.

“My peers noticed I practice what I preach through my use of WSUD in my family home, which is one of the reasons I was nominated. I can boast that no stormwater leaves my house, I harvest and utilise it all year round”, Joe says.

Joe thanks the UniSA Civil Engineering teaching staff for where he is today, saying they introduced him to WSUD.

“I have to credit Professor Simon Beecham and Adjunct Professor John Argue from my study at UniSA, they have influenced me in Civil Engineering and WSUD techniques relating directly to my career. UniSA's Civil Engineering programs are practical, realistic and reflect what the industry needs, so I’m thankful to have studied there,” says Joe.

Applications for UniSA’s Master of Engineering with specialisations in Water Resource Management, Civil and Infrastructure or Transport are open now. Find more information here.

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