Trip of a lifetime beckons for Operator of the Year

12 Feb 2019
As the closing date approaches for nominations for WIOA NSW Operator of the Year 2019, the Water Directorate asked last year’s winner, Dave Cashen of Bathurst Regional Council (pictured above at work and on the NZ tour), what it meant to win award and join a contingent of Australian operators for the WIOA NZ Tour. The Water Directorate sponsors this award to honour the unsung work done by Operators on a daily basis – here is this year’s nomination form.

In Dave’s own words:
“2018 marked an important year for Bathurst as our ageing Water Filtration Plant and System which was built in 1972 required some much-needed upgrades from process alterations - remote process accessibility to operator recertification. It has kept us busy. I was very honoured to hear that I had been nominated for The Water Directorate NSW Operator of the Year Award. I was also very surprised and honoured to win the Award at the WIOA Conference in April 2018 at Tamworth NSW.  I do not do my job for recognition, I like to see everything running smooth and to supply good quality water for my family and for the people of Bathurst. I do take it to heart when things go wrong so I make sure as best I can that it does not.

“Firstly to be nominated for such an award was not only surprising but a very big honour because there are many operators around the State that do an amazing job and most with very little resources. They really do go above and beyond and make the work their passion. For me to receive such an award at this level was truly an honour and I do what I do because I enjoy the job and what it offers. I feel great satisfaction from achieving personal goals and providing a good quality healthy product.

“My duties are forever changing and I find it very rewarding keeping up with the technologies, or trying to, and most people do not get this opportunity whilst working at their jobs. Our industry is really at the forefront of technology change and operators have to embrace it.

“I encourage all operators to apply or have someone nominate them because it really is an exciting and rewarding experience, and if you win the NZ trip it is amazing.”  

Dave’s report on the North Island New Zealand WIOA Tour 2018

“I have a young family so it was very hard to leave them for the duration of the trip. I had only been out of Australia once in my life and this was the second time. I knew there were around 18 people including myself going and we were to meet some at the Wellington Airport. I had already flown from Bathurst to Sydney so was a bit anxious upon coming into Wellington.

“I was amazed at just how approachable and inviting our NZ contact Bruce Nesbitt was. This man despite just meeting many people from all over Australia was able to engage in many different topics of conversation and be a great ambassador for New Zealand. Meeting the rest of our group was fantastic and we had a Teppanyaki dinner - food throwing - Recorded to show the kids ha ha!

“The tour group was fantastic and it was great to hear just the diversity we have and the personalities there were amazing. We had a game going that if you say or do something not quite right you had to wear the PIRATE HAT of shame, although we all seemed to have had a go at wearing it through the trip. I lot of fun.

“Our itinerary was very full on starting on Saturday 5th May. We visited many Water and Waste sites. The technology and the vast difference in operations from plant to plant was incredible. I have seen many plants in Australia over a long career and I was still amazed.

One of my highlights to no surprise to the group was the "JIGGER RIDE" I was very keen to ride this through a mountain no less. The rail follows the pipeline from their intake to the plant through this mountain. Amazing!

Our tour included:
  • Paraparaumu WWTP in Kapiti - This activated sludge plant was similar to what I have seen before but still very interesting. Next stop was Waikanae WTP, this was Bruce's plant and you could see how much pride he had taking us through, it was a very well maintained plant and a bit so real to be honest- I wish I had his budget, lol!
  • TUI Brewery - It was interesting to see how things work and I was hoping to see it work but they were not producing product at the time, bit of a shame but got a souvenir glass to bring home anyway.
  • Napier WWTP was next on the tour, wow our Filters back here are big but this was huge, multi-storey honeycomb beds. Currently looking at our ones now.
  • Taihape WTP via the GENTLE ANNIE range. The plant tour was great and it was interesting to see that these plants actually have similar problems to ours and there approach to remedy it was the same. We did have a go at the Taihape GUMBOOT throw, my first throw was the worst and I was bagged out for it but then I redeemed myself by throwing the farthest.
  • Hunterville Lagoons and small WWTP - These places were very interesting to me and I was amazed how close to roadway they were and how processes worked there.
  • Palmerston North was a highlight as we went Go Carting and after all the work we needed to unwind. Our group of three came first. We also held the fastest lap time for the day. Cool. Later that night we attended the President’s Dinner to open the Water Industry Operations Group of New Zealand (WIOG) conference.
“The WIOG Conference was great, the Aussie contingent participated in many activities over the two days from the fastest water pipe connection - I had fastest time for one day but got beat by our own Aussie girl contingent for Water Main tapping against the Kiwis, which we won with a time of 1 minute 30 seconds odd. Well done girls, made us proud.

“I was roped into being the Water Taste test Judge for the Aussies and had great fun completing this. The trade stalls were excellent and I took full advantage while there and have actually made contact and I am looking at purchasing items from the Australian based company. Another highlight was literally running into New Zealand former ALL BLACK Ian Jones, who was guest speaker for the night. I was asked to see if we could get an Aussie photo with him, he very happily agreed, awesome. Lovely man and very funny.

“After eight exciting full days we were back in Wellington and ready to catch the plane back to Australia. I will be showing Bathurst's plant to the New Zealand tour shortly for WIOA and feel very honoured to do so and look forward to seeing some of these people again.”    

David J Cashen
Bulk Water Filtration Supervisor
Bathurst Regional Council

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