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Meet Darren de Klerk - Director of Projects and Programmes, Central Hawke's Bay District Council

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How do you describe your role to family and friends?
I lead the programme management office (PMO) at CHB that extends to infrastructure - 3 waters and roading projects across the district. My role largely involves guiding projects through the project lifecycle – the work is largely done by our team and supporting partners (engineers and contractors) who design and build our projects – in short, my role leads, coordinates and guides project and programmes of work to deliver outcomes (generally physical things) that meet stakeholder aspirations.

What is your proudest moment in your role so far?
Delivering the Porangahau and Takapau water treatment plant upgrades with our partners Veolia and Stantec – this project allowed small rural towns to receive consistent clear quality drinking water that some in the community had wondered would they ever receive.

What is the most exciting aspect of working on #TheBigWastewaterStory?
The ability to lead transformational change in the way we manage and improve our wastewater assets to deal with growth but more importantly the environmental and cultural benefits that delivering these upgrades will bring to the community in 10-15 years, that will set the towns up for generations.

What is the most challenging aspect of working on #TheBigWastewaterStory?
Funding and delivering a solution in a timeframe that meets community and regulatory aspirations.

What is something people might not know about Wastewater?
The complexity in the way wastewater treatment works, our systems are simple and rely on light (sun) and oxygen to grown bugs that treat our wastewater, these face challenges that make it difficult to consistently treat to a level (growth, weather, inconsistencies in loads received, everything working as planned).
CHB has the basic oxidation ponds as primary treatment for all six townships, but these struggle to now deal with the ever changing demands (growth, flows, loads and compliance requirements) that are placed on them. Hence the need for intervention in the form of mechanical smarter treatment systems or different receiving environments (land) to apply the treated water.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about Wastewater?
To understand the impact each and everyone has on what enters the wastewater network through what you flush or the amount you discharge, and a general better understanding of the process (that unfortunately once you flush, wastewater leaves your property and goes somewhere to be treated and discharged). That we can all be kaitiaki of our environment and take responsibility in our own way to make small steps that can help.

What is one element of the #TheBigWastewaterStory that you are most looking forward to working on or completing?
I am really looking forward to seeing the first irrigation to land system commissioned! Which will mean we are on the journey to successfully removing discharge from our waterways.

What’s your go-to productivity trick?
Writing to do lists (getting stuff out of my head), and going for walks to break up and freshen the day (clear my head).

If you could be automate one part of your job, what would it be?
Gathering data and writing reports.

What is one thing you couldn’t live without at work?
Coffee, Banter and Spotify.

What’s your favourite thing to do outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my whanau and friends, keeping active, and exploring our beautiful country.

Best minute of your life so far?
The birth of my daughter Bowen in 2017.

What is your favourite place or thing to do in Central Hawke’s Bay?
I love standing on top of Pukeora Reservoir looking down across Waipukurau and the Tukituki river.

25 January 2021

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