A trio of dedicated Coliban Water employees, with an impressive 120 years of service to the water industry between them, will all retire in 2019.

Customer Support Officer, Brendan Keogh; Rural Services Officer, Harold Arnett; and Manager Headworks, Bruce Duncan, were guests of honour at a recent staff event as their colleagues wished them well for their respective retirements.

Mr Keogh started with the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in 1972 and recalls large-scale change in the water industry during his 47-year career.

“I remember starting out with no computers and instead there were typewriters. We later progressed to carbon books and then fax machines,” Mr Keogh said.

“Working in rural water has been a highlight for me – I’ve had the pleasure of working with great customers and good people. Coliban Water has also been a very supportive workplace so I feel lucky.” 

Rural Services Officer, Harold Arnett, started on a 12-week contract as a ‘scaffold-hand’ at Sandhurst Reservoir, which evolved into an impressive 35-year career in the water industry.

In 1988, Mr Arnett became a water bailiff – a role which saw him travelling around Victoria to manually open farm outlets and facilitate irrigation on farms.

“I recall farmers would have to ring us at 7am and we’d write down the orders for that day, put it on a big sheet of paper and head out in the ute. There was no Wi-Fi or anything like that,” Mr Arnett said.

“I’m now looking forward to spending time with my grandchildren, travelling and fishing.”

Fellow retiree Bruce Duncan has notched up 39 years in the water industry. He started out at the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission as a graduate engineer, spending his formative years in Melbourne.

Mr Duncan began consultancy work and also completed a three-year stint at Southern Rural Water before spending the past 21 years with Coliban Water.

“The Millennium Drought stands out in my mind and the subsequent wet years after that. These two extremes were stressful and eye-opening, but everyone pulled together to get the job done. It was a unique time and it gave me so much insight into how the industry worked,” Mr Duncan said.

“I was also fortunate to look after some of Victoria’s dams and bulk water supplies, and the highlight was certainly getting out to meet people. I did get pleasure out of customer satisfaction over the years – being able to help people along the way was great.”

Coliban Water Acting Managing Director, Neville Pearce, said it had been a delight to work with Mr Keogh, Mr Duncan and Mr Arnett, who had each contributed a great deal to the organisation.

“These retirements are significant for Coliban Water as we farewell these hard-working and long-standing employees. We wish them all the very best for the next chapter of their lives, and we will certainly miss them,” Mr Pearce said.

All three employees will have officially retired by September 2019.

Siobhan Day is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and Pump Industry magazine, and has been part of the team since early 2019. With a background in management in the non-profit sector, Siobhan has extensive experience in communications, professional writing and client management. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Communications and is currently completing a postgraduate degree.

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