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Locals taking care of critical assets in their communities – that’s the role of the 22-strong Citycare Water team providing three waters services to the Clutha District.
They manage 12 water treatment plants, eight wastewater treatment plants and over 3,500 kilometres of pipes spread out over a large geographical area in South Otago.
“Right now, 100% of our staff are essential workers and provide essential services to our communities during the nationwide lockdown,” Clutha Branch Manager Kerrod Baldwin said.
“The team is extremely proud of their work, proud of their communities, and proud of being able to provide and support their communities through their job,” he said.
“It makes us really happy to look after our townships. We’re all locals – everybody knows the staff and we know our communities and areas well,” Kerrod says.
“The local knowledge is a big advantage, enabling us to respond efficiently to any breaks and providing a service of high quality,” he said.
The Clutha District has a population of around 18,000 and the second largest drinking water network in the country.
Fourteen Citycare Water staff work on reticulation – ensuring supply and allocation of water and maintaining the network infrastructure. Another six staff oversee 13 drinking water plants and 12 wastewater plants.
Much of the water is delivered to farms in this agricultural region. For example, approximately 3 megalitres of water a day is supplied to farms by a single treatment plant.
The largest drinking water treatment plant services the 4,500 residents of Balclutha, while other small plants cater to communities of about 200 people.
The community connection is strong. For example, recently there was an issue at one of the pump stations and the team was working late into the night in cold and wet conditions. The community and family members gathered to support them with hot food and drinks.
A key element for the team is experienced staff sharing their knowledge with newer members.
Aging infrastructure in the district poses challenges – there are numerous and often hidden leaks in the pipe network and the team is constantly devising innovative solutions to keep old treatment plants performing efficiently, Otago Region Three Waters Manager Tim Ure said.
The Clutha team already faced an emergency event this year with floods in the region in early February requiring 24/7 work for a week.
In these situations, they have increased capacity and support from the Citycare Water Dunedin crews.
Citycare Water Clutha Branch Manager Kerrod Baldwin
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When Christchurch residents report an issue with their water, various Citycare Water teams step in to ensure the problem is repaired in a timely way.
Thousands of residents report water reticulation problems in Christchurch each month and prioritising the fixes is a continuous exemplar of collaboration between the council and Citycare Water.