WIOA New Zealand Tour is a Big Success

23 May 2014

Todd Pattison, Operator in Charge of Mardi Water Treatment Plant, was the winner of this year's WIOA NSW Operator of the Year Award. This award is sponsored by the Water Directorate and as the winner is eligible to join the WIOA study tour of New Zealand and attend the WIOG NZ Conference.

Todd has recently returned from his study tour and provided the following report:

"I was extremely honoured to be announced the 2014 NSW Operator of the Year at the recent WIOA Conference in Orange.  I would like to thank the NSW Water Directorate for sponsoring this award and making it possible for me to participate in the recent WIOA tour to New Zealand.

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 2 May. We spent the next eight days inspecting a number of water and wastewater plants and water water supply sites, culminating in attending the WIOG NZ Conference 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 we saw 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 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.

We gathered with just on 200 delegates at the WIOG conference and met many of New Zealand’s finest 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.

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.

I would also like to thank George and Russ from WIOA for making our trip a most enjoyable one, thanks gents for a great job. A special mention must also go out to our Kiwi tour guide, host and bus driver in Damian Lawsen who always had a joke (not always that funny) and a laugh along the way, keeping the whole group entertained.

Finally I would like to pass on my thanks to the Executive Committee of the NSW Water Directorate for sponsoring this award and giving me the opportunity to participate in such a special event.  I am sure future winners of the Operator the Year will be just as appreciative of your support."

Congratulations once again to Todd Pattison on winning this award. We look forward to sponsoring this award again next year.

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