Water Journal : Current May 2017
THE NAMESAKE One of Guy Parker’s most significant contributions to the water industry came when he was still wet behind the ears. His first assignment at his first job with Melbourne Water seemed simple enough: Explore why the main concrete sewer pipe carrying sewage from Melbourne to a treatment location at Werribee was corroding at such a high rate. An investigation found that a bacterium was the main culprit. A biological process within the organism produced sulphuric acid, which was eating away at the pipe’s surface. This was a previously unknown organism, and Guy Parker was able to isolate this culture and study the microbial process to build more resilient structures. But it wasn’t until last year that Dr Richard Boden, a lecturer of environmental microbiology and biotechnology at the University of Plymouth in the UK, contacted John Parker about naming the organism after his father. “It came as a bolt out of the blue; it’s 50 years down the track after he did the research, and he’s been dead now since 1981,” said Parker. In case you’re wondering what it looks like to have your name turned into binomial nomenclature, Guy Parker became Thermithiobacillus parkerensis. www.awa.asn.au 97 John Parker (second from right) says his father (far left) was one of his inspirations for working in the water industry. Parker (second from left) worked as a chemist and bacteriologist before starting his own consultancy. Parker said his father’s involvement in the water industry was a major inspiration for his joining as well. After working as a chemical engineer in metal manufacturing, Parker jumped at the chance to join his father’s consultancy company, and he fully assumed the family mantle after Guy Parker retired. HOME AND AWAY No discussion of Guy Parker’s contributions to the water industry is complete without a look at his international work. He was actively involved in the International Water Association (IWA) for a time as the Australian delegate to its governing board. Add to this his consulting work with the World Health Organisation (WHO), and a picture emerges of a dedicated, tireless and consummate professional. “I think a lot of people aren’t aware of his involvement with WHO, but he worked with them for a number of years establishing international standards for potable water that are still used today,” said Parker. “From there, he went on to work with WHO establishing research facilities and operations, which took him to countries such as Israel, Thailand, Brazil and India.” BRAIN WAVE According to John Parker, the idea for starting the Association came from abroad. One of Guy Parker’s international associates in the US encouraged him and his peers to take the first steps towards starting a domestic water organisation. Guy Parker (fifth from left) while working in India with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
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