Wastewater plant manager retires

19:32, Feb 09 2014

Peter Arnott was once told the Clifton Wastewater Treatment Plant was built because rowers got tired of "banging into turds and toilet paper" on the estuary.

Mr Arnott, the wastewater treatment plants manager at Clifton, worked his last day at the plant on Friday after four decades' testing, cleaning and managing what Invercargill sends down the sewers.

After 43 years at the plant, he reckons he is used to the smell.

It is not a job everyone would volunteer for, and understandably, it is a career which has caused Mr Arnott a bit of grief from friends.

"They say: 'How can you work at a wastewater treatment plant?' And that's the polite words."

Despite what many people might think, it had been a very clean job, with every day offering something a little different, he said.

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Mr Arnott started at Clifton as a wastewater technician in January 1971, after a job advertisement in the newspaper, offering a nice-looking salary, enticed him south from a Dunedin medical laboratory.

He has seen everything from children's toys and shoes to cellphones, money and, bizarrely, a 4x2 plank of wood arrive down the sewerage network.

Although there were many aspects of the job he would miss, including his long-time colleagues, Mr Arnott said that he had big plans for his retirement.

First, there was a holiday to visit his yet-to-be-born grandson, and then he and his wife would head to Fiji to take part in a medical and dental mission through Marine Reach.

"I'm heading off into the wide, blue yonder," he said.

"I'm looking forward to it."

The Southland Times