The local government sector has banded together to open a helpline for all council drinking and waste water technicians, providing an accessible source of advice for small suppliers across New Zealand to lean on.
While drinking and waste water infrastructure continue to meet the changes in demand brought on by the lockdown, a potential reduction in workforce may mean that the essential workers at the helm have less access to sources of technical advice and support.
The new national drinking and waste water helpline has been set up to ensure that frontline staff continue to have access to specialist operation and process engineering advice.
“We’ve got a lot of dedicated people out in the regions providing lifeline drinking and waste water services, who due to the lockdown don’t have the usual support or contact points” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
“Considering that circumstances are changing daily, this help line gives our essential water workers a great source of technical support to address any challenges that arise.”
The helpline is the result of work from the Local and Central Government COVID-19 response team, led by the Department of Internal Affairs and including the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM), NEMA and LGNZ.
The Tasman District is one area that will benefit from the new helpline. The district covers nearly 10,000 square kilometres, but is home to just over 1% of New Zealand’s population, and hosts a range of drinking and wastewater networks.
“In a large but relatively sparsely populated district such as Tasman, we’ve got a number of water supply technicians working in isolation,” says Mayor Tim King.
“Waste and drinking water systems are complex and require technical expertise and decision-making when factors change, so this helpline gives them support if needed.”
Community drinking water suppliers, who are not on the council network, will also be able to access the helpline directly, but will need to do so through their local council or Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) group.
“The helpline will provide advice from Lutra’s team of senior technical experts, who have been working with Water NZ and we appreciate their assistance,” concluded Mr Cull.