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No two days the same

20 May 2022

Variety is the spice of life and it’s what Water NZ trainee of the year nominee Bradley Owen loves most about his job at Citycare Water in South Otago.

Brad began his water apprenticeship two years ago having worked in the freezing works, farming and heavy fabrication engineering in the Clutha District.

He has lived in Kaitangata for 35 years, which is a 15-minute drive from the Balclultha yard.

“I enjoy giving different things a crack and seeing how things work,” Brad says.

Citycare Water Balclutha Branch Manager Kerrod Baldwin says Brad currently operates, maintains, and ensures compliance for three water treatment plants in the district, all with different operational processes.

The varying assets within the district offer Brad a wide range of treatment experiences.

One uses a membrane filtration with chemical coagulation/flocculation, sedimentation as pre-treatment. Another plant is a direct filtration, with chemical coagulation/flocculation, while another is a full conventional treatment which incorporates chemical coagulation/flocculation, sedimentation, sand filtration, with UV and follows with gas chlorine disinfection.

“There are new challenges every day and no two days are the same,” Brad says.

“In the past I worked at the freezing works and it was the same four white walls every day and the same tasks.”

As part of ensuring potable/drinking water for the residents receiving water from the treatment plants he maintains, Brad now is involved in fixing leaks, maintaining intakes and installing new pipes in the network.

“I get to work out what is happening and what I can do to improve it,” he says.

His mechanical trade experience, including arch and stainless-steel welding, oxy cutting, and pump rehabilitation, means he has a good understanding and practical experience in the water reticulation network.

Kerrod applauds not only Brad’s work ethic, collaborative spirit and can-do attitude, but his desire to learn about his role and the industry.

Brad completed his Level 4 Certificate in Water Treatment after 13 months’ study and he’s been recommended to undertake the Level 5 Diploma qualification.

“Brad’s achievement has encouraged other staff to study for their Level 4 Certificates in Water and Wastewater Treatment, including reticulation certifications,” Kerrod says.

Brad is a keen problem solver so is always looking new and innovative tricks to make the job easier.

“For example, he added extra pipes at the Waitahuna treatment plant to carry more water into the clear water pumps to improve the plant’s operations,” Kerrod says.

Brad also has licences to operate some plant and gets the opportunity to operate diggers repairing burst pipes during weekends when he is on call.

When not on call, Brad spends his weekends with his family and enjoys hunting and fishing.

He describes the Balclutha team as a bunch of good people who lean on each other.

A close friend, Water Serviceperson Peter Falconer, initially suggested Brad change careers to the water industry in 2019 when Citycare Water won the Clutha District three waters contract, and he  hasn’t looked back since.

Congratulations to Brad for his nomination for the Water New Zealand Trainee of the Year award and all the best of luck from everyone at Citycare Water.