Coonamble farmer Anne Kennedy has devoted the last two decades to fighting for water conservation around the country. For her continued commitment to the cause and service to the community, Mrs Kennedy has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (AM).
Mrs Kennedy said she was extremely humbled and "totally overwhelmed" after finding out she had been bestowed the AM honour.
"I cannot list the hundreds of people who have done more than I have, who have worked so hard and tirelessly," she said.
She credits the traditional owners, the farmers, the town people, and everyone who "united passionately to save the water".
"The thing I love most is the unity of our community," Mrs Kennedy said.
As founder and president of Coonamble's Great Artesian Basin Protection Group, Mrs Kennedy has made waves in lobbying for water conservation.
One of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world, the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) is underneath nearly a quarter of Australia.
Since the basin's water recharge is very minimal, Mrs Kennedy said she was shocked to find out about "massive" gas wells "fracturing and polluting it".
"I don't think anyone realises... how totally dependent a lot of inland communities are on groundwater," she said.
"There's nothing else, the water is finite. What we have is what we've got."
Mrs Kennedy has been working with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment since 2009 as part of the GAB Advisory group.
She has also been the president of the Artesian Bore Water Users Association of NSW since 2012, and an active member of the Country Women's Association of NSW.
The water warrior was named 'Citizen of the Year' by Coonamble Shire Council, in 2015.
For the last 25 years, Mrs Kennedy has been gathering evidence from scientists, groundwater engineers and experts about the impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) wells.
She has consistently lobbied local and federal politicians and presented evidence at parliamentary hearings.
Mrs Kennedy has been among the people at the forefront of the fight to protect the GABS's only recharger of water, the Pilliga Forest in the Narrabri region.
What has kept her going all this time?
"I'm old. There's enough food and water for me, but I've got 13 grandchildren," Mrs Kennedy said.
"I'm thinking of tens of generations of future Australians who will say, 'Why did you let them destroy this water?'"
Despite the "stress" from her fight against coal seam gas wells, Mrs Kennedy AM reflects on the positive; the people she found in her journey to conserve Australia's water.
"I've met so many wonderful inspiring people that I would have never met otherwise. They have literally enriched my life, and are friends for life."
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