Source: Whangarei District Council
Updated: 22/04/2020 3:49 p.m.
Working during the Covid-19 lockdown has had its ups and downs for Council’s Wastewater team.
“Commuting to work has been a breeze with the lack of cars on the road but we’ve been missing our local lunch bar at smoko time,” says Andy Keith, Council’s Wastewater & Stormwater Operations Manager.
Mr Keith is one of a staff of six, responsible for keeping the District’s nine wastewater treatment plants running, removing waste and contaminants from Whangārei’s sewage and greywater to keep our harbour and waterways clean.
The treatment plants need specialised technicians to operate and staff are being very vigilant to protect their work bubble of six through social isolation, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and plenty of disinfectant.
“Working during the lockdown has certainly thrown up some challenges,” says Mr Keith. “Wearing PPE equipment can be hot and uncomfortable. Although the risk of contracting the virus through our work is low, we can’t take any chances.”
An increase in the number of wet wipes being flushed into the sewer system is a major issue, causing a range of problems from blockages to damaging pumps, filters and aerators. “The message for the public is always put wet wipes into the rubbish and not in the toilet.”
Altogether 81 Council staff have been given permission to work in the field as essential workers, keeping core services running during the lockdown.
Senior Wastewater Treatment Technician Jason Kiddie clears wet wipes blocking filters at the Whangarei Wastewater Treatment Plant.