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11 October 2021

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.

It’s all about prioritisation and juggling the availability of specialist water technicians around the city to take care of emergencies and complete everyday maintenance of the pipe network, Operations Manager Alan Gramstrup says.

“Citycare Water consistently achieves near to 100% of our targeted timeframes for Christchurch City Council and we are very proud of our team’s performance to help residents as efficiently as we can,” he says.

Job tickets generated by the council customer service team are seamlessly managed by Citycare Water’s scheduling team.

“My job is to assign the jobs to the reticulation teams and there’s usually around 1,500 jobs each month,” says Scheduler Lesley Rose.

That’s a lot of juggling of repairs and 36 water servicepeople to successfully meet the council’s guidelines for immediate, urgent and normal issues to do with potable water.

There’s a bit of detective work involved considering servicepeople’s skills, location and what job they are already attending to, Water Reticulation Manager Neil Newth says.

GPS trackers on Citycare Water vehicles help Lesley locate nearby maintenance staff to call when an emergency needs to be attended immediately.

Otherwise, the team out on the road determines what to do next via the Citycare Water job ranking system accessed on their phone or tablet.

A typical day is 7.30am to 4pm, but staff are rostered on call by rotation for after hours jobs.

Water servicepeople attend multiple jobs in a day and their next location is determined by the urgency of the repair. At times they leave a non-urgent job to attend an immediate issue, then return to the first job when the problem is fixed.

If an immediate job comes up, there are four different paths for the alert to reach the schedulers so they can ensure it’s attended quickly.   

A gusher is an example of an immediate job, when water is spouting at full flow and flooding the road or footpath, Neil says.

Another example is when residents report they have no water, which is usually due to damage to a pipe or connection or a lack of pressure because of a burst water main, he says.

Water servicepeople work out what the problem is, plan how to fix it, then do the repairs, often digging up pipes and replacing them.

Health and safety measures are always at the forefront of the team’s mind. For instance, if a power pole is within five metres of the leak, then a pole block is arranged with the electricity provider Orion to safeguard the team, Neil says.

Citycare Water teams leave locations how they found them and often that means a “clean-up” crew attends the site to landscape the area or reinstate road seal.

(This is part two of the story of what happens when residents report a water problem. Part one is here

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