25 February 2022

Meet the team

Say hello to Susan Saris, the Environment Team Leader at VMFRP project partner, Lower Murray Water!

Tell us a little about you

I’m from Mildura and I work at Lower Murray Water. As well as caring for the environment, my big passions are walking and canoeing. I’m involved in two social clubs – the Sunraysia Bushwalkers and Birdlife Mildura.

Tell us about your role at Lower Murray Water

I’ve been with Lower Murray Water for 1.5 years. I manage the environmental risk around our sites and treatment plants.

This can involve securing offsets for native veg – if we need to remove native vegetation, under law we have to find an equivalent piece of land and add a covenant to protect it forever. I also assess sites for cultural heritage.

How did you end up working in this role?

I studied science at university then worked in a communications role related to environmental water at Mallee Catchment Management Authority. But science was always my first love and I moved into this role to get more involved in delivering environmental projects.

What do you love about your job?

I enjoy getting out into the bush and seeing new places I might not otherwise have visited. I’m working out at Lake Cullulleraine at the moment, dealing with excessive cumbungi growth and surveying the growling grass frog population.

What do you love about where you live?

I love the landscape – there are so many parks and streams to visit.

I love getting out onto the floodplains. Last weekend, I canoed with the Sunraysia Bushwalking group at Hattah Lakes. With the recent release of environmental water, the bird life was just incredible. We could see all the new bird life – the baby pink-eared ducks and the black swans losing their baby moult and going through that awkward teen phase!

I also love solitary canoeing. Before Christmas, I finally got to canoe along Mullaroo Creek. The landscape changes so much as you go. One minute you’re in the forest and then the floodplain changes to bare and desolate.

You get to see the landscape in a completely different way from a canoe. It’s a chance for me to relax and take time-out.

What’s something people don’t know about you?

I’m in the process of starting a new Landcare group called Mallee Bushland Care. We have a proposal with the federal government to get funding to protect the turtles at Kings Billabong (Butler’s Creek).

The creek has a huge population of turtles with all three Murray River turtle species present. But it’s an ageing population because foxes keep eating the eggs. We want to put fox-proof netting over the eggs and trap foxes to protect the turtle population.

Lower Murray Water (LMW) is one of six partners responsible for implementing the VMFRP. LMW is the project proponent and will be responsible for operating the proposed infrastructure at Lindsay and Wallpolla Islands, Belsar-Yungera, Hattah Lakes North, Burra Creek, Nyah and Vinifera.

Susan is a member of the Technical Reference Group convened by DELWP to advise the proponent and the department, as appropriate, on scoping and adequacy of the Environment Effects Statement (EES) studies during the preparation of the EES, as well as coordination with statutory approval processes. To find out more about the EES process and see interactive maps of the nine VMFRP sites, visit our EES portal.