The “Day in the Life” series gives us a glimpse into the working lives of the people we don’t often see or think about, but who play an important role in keeping our community running.
We’re all keeping an eye on our water usage, but no one is watching quite as closely as Peter Turnbull, the local Water Meter Reader.
Pounding the pavement to track the water consumption of 117,828 meters in the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council community is a full-time task for Peter and his colleague.
Peter hikes about 12 km each day, or 2016 km a year. A quick calculation reveals that since he took the job ten years ago in January 2005, Peter has walked the equivalent of a 20,000 km trek right around Australia.
While Peter enjoys working outdoors, it’s no stroll in the park. The Meter Readers have a set route they must complete within a strict timeframe to allow all properties to have their accounts issued on a quarterly basis. That means they must be out there reading meters in sunshine or showers.
Peter wears through two pairs of steel cap boots every year as he does the rounds, checking meters, chatting to residents and helping people with their questions about water usage and conservation.
4:45am Alarm goes off; time to get ready for work
6:30am Arrive at Council, pick up reading device
6:45am Drive to property address for start of meter reading route
9:00am Time for a morning tea break
9:15am Back to it, reading meters, meeting residents
12:00pm Lunch time, and a chance to rest my legs
12:30pm More walking, more meter reading
3:00pm Head back to the office to download and upload routes
3:30pm Clock off for the day.
A prerequisite for the position is a good level of fitness, given the role involves walking for seven hours a day, and also comes in handy when being chased down the street by small dogs.
Peter said the job has its challenges, like getting up at 4:45am, and politely looking away when people answer the door in their underwear.
“Meter readers need a clean and unobstructed access to meters and if this is not available, then this presents big problems, with cars being parked over meters, hedges and gardens built on top of meters, and fences and locked gates preventing access to meters,” Peter said.
There are approximately 80,500 Hastings residents using 5,646 megalitres of water per annum in our region.
“Generally Hastings residents are very good at conserving water, with the majority having the appropriate water saving devices fitted,” Peter said.
“It does bother me to see people using water irresponsibly, such as washing cars on the driveway and using water outside of the available restriction times.”
Loss of water due to leaks is a major but lesser known issue, and Peter recommends residents check their own meters on a regular basis. “This would help people detect water leaks in the early stages, preventing water wastage and avoiding large water bills.”
And at the end of a gruelling day hiking the hills of the Hastings, what does Peter look forward to most? Not surprisingly, to head home and put his feet up!
Visit Council www.pmhc.nsw.gov.au/water to find out more about our water supply, current restrictions, and enter your top water saving tip before 23 January for a chance to win a 5-star water efficient Bosch washing machine or a weekly water saving hamper.