Meet Des Horton, Technical Expert Panel Member

Des has been in the water business for 43 Years with his first job in water at the young age of 17. Since then he’s worked on many water conservation projects.

Before the Millennium Drought hit, he was on the National Committee for Water Efficient Plumbing Products and Appliances. Some of the outcomes from this committee were the establishment of the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) and later a complementary proposal that resulted in the development of Smart Approved WaterMark (SAWM).

A few years later a vacancy was advertised for the Independent Panel – Des leapt at the chance to utilise his plumbing product knowledge and industry contacts.

Recently we talked about the progression of SAWM and the effectiveness of the program. Des reflected that he had never heard of environmental engineering or very much about climate or climate change when at school or even during the first 15 years of his working life.

More recently, however, newer generations are subject to education on these topics, therefore people in their late 20’s and early 30’s are much more attuned to this type of information. Of course their acknowledgement and awareness varies depending on the state of drought and restrictions, but he thinks people are a lot more water conscious than they used to be, consequently he thinks it’s ever so important to keep labelling schemes such as SAWM and WELS in front of people.

The standard water efficiency advice, like scraping dishes rather than rinsing before loading the dishwasher and only using washing machines for full loads, is now acknowledged by most people and by Des himself. His everyday efficiencies include dual flush toilets and regular plumbing maintenance - as you’d expect - but even for a water expert like him, there are many bigger options he says he could implement. Even when in the thick of home renovations, he’s reworked some plumbing plans to ensure he has smarter pipe work that’s constructed more efficiently to deliver hot water around his home. 


Much like the team here at SAWM, Des often sees people or organisations being a little less conscious of efficient water use. On his travels to the States he was aghast at the huge volume of water used to flush some of the toilets and the irregular use of water efficient showerheads…even in Australia there are times when he sees his greatest bug bear, sprinklers running freely in the heat of the day!

He acknowledged that many parks use water this way to establish new turf to make it safe for communities to enjoy and that others may be shackled with taking advantage of times in the day when the water pressure in the system is available to run watering systems. It’s these kinds of insights that are a point of discussion before judgements can be made and solutions sought.
Today Des is a Business Relationship Partner for City West Water who have been amazingly supportive of his role at SAWM enabling him to manage SAWM applications and attend meetings when required.

Over a decade later we are grateful to Des for his expertise. As a life member of the Irrigation Association he also has access to a great network of people and shares his time on a working group for a regional committee that runs field days, membership drives and educational sessions for small irrigators and training for commercial irrigation organisations. He says he’ll continue to serve on the panel until he retires … or until he has nothing more to contribute.

Please note all applications and correspondence for prospective products must only be sent to info@smartwatermark.info NOT to the panel members directly.

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