Eastern Courier : January 8th 2016
8 EASTERN COURIER, JANUARY 8, 2016 stuff.co.nz Watercare’s Chris Garton has a job like no other. The nose that truly knows ALEXANDRA NELSON Chris Garton has a nose for the water business. The 33-year-old works as an operations technician at Watercare’s Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant and has a job like no other. His nose is specifically trained to sniff out ‘‘offensive’’ smells. It was calibrated and tested with an olfactometer, the only odour-detecting and measuring device in New Zealand. ‘‘The nose calibration is more described as nose measure in terms of how sensitive your nose is to detecting odours,’’ Garton says. ‘‘The olfactometer is used to measure all sorts of industries from abattoirs to chemical factories. Testing is done over a few days. You’re not allowed to eat anything half an hour before or wear deodorant because they can alter your sense of smell.’’ Garton does two ‘‘walkovers’’ of the plant each week to test the potency of its smells. It’s all to do with ‘‘frequency, strength and offensiveness’’. ‘‘You basically move around the plant downwind of where the odour is coming from. ‘‘You basically take a series of very deep breaths and try to isolate the odour in your mind and then you try to characterise it. ‘‘I give it a number out of 100. If you’d be super-embarrassed to have a particular smell in your house, it would be a 60 to 80.’’ Garton’s confident most odours at the plant are in the 10-40 range, so not too bad. The plant has only had six complaints about odours from the public in the past year. Operations manager Mark Bourne hopes to reduce that number in 2016. The equivalent of wastewater from 1.1 million people is treated Operations manager Mark Bourne at the reactor/clarifier station of the plant. ‘‘Please think carefully before you flush.’’ Mark Bourne and discharged into the Manukau Harbour every 12 hours. Bourne says it’s important for the community to keep this in mind. Sometimes ‘‘little things’’ like ping pong balls and toy cars, dental floss and cotton buds are found at the plant. ‘‘Little things can get blocked up in the plant and the community can do things to help this,’’ Bourne says. ‘‘Fixing the small things is important because it’s a number of small things that come together to create a bigger problem, so please think carefully before you flush.’’ Some of the weird things found atWatercare’s treatment plants. FLOWINGFACTS *Watercare has 18 treatment plants around Auckland *Mangere andRosedale are the largest treatment plants *Wastewater is transported through an8000kmnetwork *400million litres ofwastewater are treated every day * The plants generate enough electricity each day to powermore than 6500 households. * Auckland’s growing population meant that the treatment plant needed an $451 million upgrade between1998 till 2002. * Thirteen kilometresof beaches, including those around Puketutu Island, were restored, with the area nowtheWatercare CoastalWalkway. History of Mangere Plant The MangereWastewater Treatment Plant dates back to 1960 and is among the largest in the world. Before itwas built, Auckland’s sewage discharged directly into the ocean. ‘‘Kelly Tarlton’s fish nowlive in the holding tanks that sewage used to live in,’’wasterwater operations manager Mark Bourne says. ‘‘So for the old parts of Auckland city... all [thewastewater] flowed downinto a very large pipeline that used to cross over the top of Hobson Bay and flowinto what today is Kelly Tarlton’s. Thatwas the case from 1914 to 1960 when the Mangere Wastewater treatment plantwas opened. From 1960 onwards, only treatedwastewaterwas discharged. The Mangere plant is nowbeing developed to cater for the next 20 years’ growth. The work is expected to finish in 2018.
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