As winner of the 2014 NSW Operator of the Year announced at the recent WIOA Conference in Orange NSW, I joined a tour group comprising 8 other operators plus WIOA Executive Officer George Wall and President Russell Mack when we landed in Auckland on Friday 2nd May. We spent the next eight days inspecting a number of water and wastewater plants and water supply sites, culminating in attending the Water Industry Operations Group of NZ’s 2 day conference at Wairakei, near Taupo.
Our plant tour departed Auckland on 3 May and included stops at the Ardmore WTP which supplies up to 80% of Auckland’s drinking water, the Kawakawa Bay WWTP and then the Kerepehi WTP in the Hauraki District. The tour group also visited the Te Aroha WTP & WWTP and, my personal favourite, the Waihou Walkway - an unbelievable part of the world where the Waihou River starts its majestic journey across the North Island until it runs out to sea near Thames. This truly is an oasis, with crystal blue waters and aquatic life, including trout in abundance. Other places of interest visited were the brand new Ngatamariki Geothermal Power Station near Taupo, witnessing the immense power of the Huka Falls at the head of the Waikato River and seeing the Aratiatia flood gates opening, used to control water levels downstream of
the Huka Falls. On the last day we visited the very impressive Mangere WWTP which treats most of Auckland’s sewage.
I would like to express my gratitude to those who helped organise the tour itinerary and all the hosts from the different councils and water authorities who generously gave their time to show us around their plants, even on Saturday and Sunday. They all showed pride and knowledge in their plants beyond expectation.
In amongst all the plant tours, there was even a bit of time put aside for some fun activities including a visit to Hobbiton at Matamata (the site for the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies) and the Rotorua Skyline Gondola and Luge. The downhill luge run in the rain brought out the lunatic fringe in
a few of us (Russell and Lester) with a fun afternoon had by all.
We then gathered with just on 200 delegates at the WIOG conference and met many of New Zealand’s $ nest water industry people who had come together for some quality networking and to acknowledge some deserving award winners in the NZ water industry. It was interesting to note that the issues of concern to operators are pretty well the same either side of the Tasman, but we did share a few ideas that could help
each other. What was also evident was how passionate about their important role in the community both sets of operators are.
Todd Pattison, Wyong Shire Council, NSW