Professor John Langford AM


Professor John Langford AM is a nationally and internationally recognised water expert. His diverse and distinguished career in the water industry spans over 35 years, including 15 years at chief executive level. He is a Professorial Fellow in the Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne and a Visiting Professor of the Chinese Academy of Science.

His exhaustive knowledge of matters to do with urban and rural water management is anchored in wide-ranging practical experience:

  • At Melbourne Water (then the Board of Works) his work with forest hydrology informed the management of water supply catchments, strategic planning and the operation of Melbourne’s water supply system, introduction of demand management (dual flush toilets!), and water pricing reform
  • He joined the Rural Water Commission, Victoria’s statewide irrigation and rural water supply authority, in 1987 as Director of Operations, rising to Managing Director in 1989.
  • He was made a Commissioner of the Murray Darling Basin Commission contributing to significant reform of the irrigation sector.
  • After winding up the Rural Water Corporation in 1994 he was appointed as the inaugural Executive Director of the Water Services Association of Australia, the peak body of Australia’s city water supply authorities contributing to reform of Australian and international drinking water quality guidelines, and strategic lifecycle management of water infrastructure.
  • He was influential in establishing 3 Cooperative Research Centres:
    • Catchment Hydrology
    • Freshwater Ecology and
    • Water Quality and Treatment.
  • He chaired the Boards of the Cooperative Research Centre for Catchment Hydrology and Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology a combined total of 25 years, and has chaired the Board of the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre since 1990.
  • He joined the University of Melbourne as a Professorial Fellow in 2004 to establish an incubator of issue focussed cross-disciplinary water research developing and successfully completing a research portfolio with an investment of more than $20 million across Melbourne and Monash Universities.
  • He led the development of the Australia China Centre on Water Resources Research (now the Australia China Centre on River Basin Management) with the objective of sharing mutually beneficial experience and research across the 2 countries.

Professor Langford has been recognised by:

  • a Churchill Fellowship in 1973 to work with the US Department of Agriculture
  • election in 1998 as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering
  • the Australian Water Association’s Peter Hughes Award in 2000
  • selection as the 2001 Crawford Munro Orator by Engineers Australia
  • a Centenary Medal in 2003 for his contribution to environmental science and technology
  • Engineers Australia (in 2004) as among the top 100 most influential engineers in Australia
  • Membership of the Order of Australia in the 2005 Queens Birthday Honours List.

View publications listing: Prof John Langford