|You don’t see too many gold watches being handed out for long service in today’s workforce. |
However, Ian Kendell of Southern Rural Water broke all the records for the water corporation when he recently chalked up 45 years of service.
Ian started back in the days of State Rivers and Water Supply. His brother worked for them in Kerang and Ian was able to get some casual work before being employed full-time in the construction gang.
“I was in the construction gang for four years and I’d worked my way up to being in charge of the construction of many channel structures – bridges, culverts, regulators and meter outlets,” said Ian. “But we were friends with the water bailiff who lived up the road and I really liked the idea of being a water bailiff. You had to be at least 21 years old to join the public service, though, so I waited and as soon as I was old enough, I applied.”
Although he’s now called a Water Service Operator, Ian is still essentially in the same position. He had many opportunities to take indoor positions but didn’t like the idea. The attraction of his job, he says, include being outdoors, being your own boss, and taking pride in operating your own section of an irrigation district.
In 1978 Ian and his family moved to Gippsland to see if the change in climate would improve his son’s asthma. It did. “It was worth the move, and we like it down here. You’re close to the snow, the beaches, the lakes, and we also got involved in local sporting clubs at Nambrok,” he said.
It would come as no surprise to anyone that Ian has seen plenty of changes in the Macalister Irrigation District since then. One has been the adoption of modern technology, known as Total Channel Control, to automate water delivery through parts of the district.
“There is a lot less manual work now without drop bars and checking measuring points,” said Ian. “You can look at a computer and see what’s where.
“I can already see water savings with this system. And you can tell within minutes if something has gone wrong for a customer or whether someone is rorting the system.”
When Ian first started, customers would order their water via red letter boxes which were collected four times a week. “Then we went to telephone ordering and now they can also order online,” said Ian.
On an average day, Ian spends his time checking flows of outlets, regulating water down channels and talking with customers. “There’s more area to cover nowadays, and you may be doing something at the top of your section, then have to race down the bottom to do something else. There’s a fair bit of travelling throughout the area.”
But he still enjoys the work, and gets along well with his fellow staff at Southern Rural Water. And his advice to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps? “Remember, the customer is always the first person you have to give priority to when delivering water,” he said.
For more information, please contact Southern Rural Water on 1300 139 510.
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