IPWEA NZ are honoured to award Gary Boot with the IPWEA NZ President’s Award – an award not bestowed easily. The Chief Executive and staff of Waimakariri District Council presented the Award to Gary last week. Gary has shone in every area considered for this award, described below.
Gary received his Master of Civil Engineering in 1993 from the University of Canterbury. Upon graduating he was employed by Opus International, followed by several years at Connell Wagner Limited, before taking up his role at Waimakariri District Council in 2002 as the Utilities Manager.
During that time he was the recipient of the Maunsell Young Leaders Award 2005, the NZWWA Hynds Best Paper 2006, and the Ingenium Best Technical Presentation 2011.
He also received the Engineering NZ Award in April 2018, Chairs Award for Service to the Community.
Gary’s warm nature, technical excellence, and commitment to communities, epitomises the excellence that the President’s Award is intended to acknowledge.
Organisational / Business Management
Whilst Gary’s initial role as Utilities Manager was a third tier manager, none-the-less Gary had significant responsibilities with a staff of 5 supplemented by assistance from various consultants and technical staff from the then Technical Services Unit (later becoming the Project Delivery Unit when Gary took over its leadership). As Utilities Manager Gary was responsible for assets valued at around $300 million, an Operations budget of $12 million p.a. and a Capital Expenditure Budget of around $25 million p.a.
On moving to lead the Project Delivery Unit in 2012 Gary had a staff of 22 with a Unit revenue of $3 million p.a. delivering about 150 projects each year.
In effect this was a small to medium sized consultancy unit covering all aspects of local body engineering. As well as oversight of the engineering outputs, Gary was responsible for managing his staff with assistance from other sections of the Council such as HR, accounts and administration.
Taking over the Project Delivery Unit was on top of his role as Project Delivery Manager for the Earthquake Infrastructure Recovery Steering Group (60 odd projects with a total budget of $44 million).
Even with both roles Gary continued to organise and deliver major projects to high standards, on time and within budget.
Up until his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease Gary has performed as an outstanding manager, both in delivering excellent technical advice and performance and in getting the best from his staff.
He has a unique ability to explain complex technical issues and motivate people, and through his effectiveness, empower colleagues to make decisions and drive projects.
Gary is an extremely likeable, modest person who challenges himself and others to perform.
Design and Construction
Gary has made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of the water supply facilities in the Waimakariri District. Under his watch he has initiated and overseen the design and construction of improvements to most of the water supply systems in the District.
He joined Waimakariri District Council in 2002 as the Council’s Utilities Manager responsible for overseeing the maintenance and development of water and wastewater systems for the Council. This was a challenging job. The most critical of the projects that Gary was responsible for was the Rangiora Town Water Supply (design population 32,000; peak future demand 26,000 m3 per day; total project value $15 million). This had significant issues with volume shortages and sources that were vulnerable to contamination. Over the following 10 years Gary lead the assessment of alternative solutions which included drilling several trial bore wells, community consultation, selection and then implementation of a new bore field, 10km of pipeline, treatment and storage facilities.
Gary was given full authority to direct the entire project such was the confidence in his technical expertise and skill in presenting and then selling the preferred option to the elected members and the community.
Whilst much of the detailed technical work was undertaken by consultants who had to address complex geo-technical and hydrogeology issues in determining suitable water supply aquifers as well as a complex pumping system to deliver water from an aquifer in Kaiapoi to Rangiora, Gary was required to guide and challenge their work to ensure that an optimal solution was achieved.
Gary also directed similar, though smaller, projects from option studies through to completion. The Oxford, Woodend, West Eyreton and Summerhill water supply upgrades further demonstrate his technical capability and leadership skills in addressing controversy and concerns when presenting to the elected representatives and the affected communities to provide secure groundwater compliant with the Drinking Water Standards of New Zealand at an affordable cost to the community. Meetings were at times difficult, but Gary has special skills in persuading and explaining to bring people on board.
Such is his expertise in the rural water supply field that Gary recently was responsible for providing guidance to the Hastings District on aspects relating to the Havelock North water contamination issue.
Gary has also seen the successful connection of several smaller wastewater schemes in the Mandeville and Swannanoa area into the Eastern District Scheme, This involved option studies, extensive consultation with the public, difficult negotiations with developers, and ultimately construction and commissioning.
He has also frequently been sought after to provide advice on asset management issues by various asset managers in the Council.
Externally Gary has been held in very high regard due to the high standard of engineering that he has set for projects that he was involved with, his understanding of design issues and design process, and his ability to assimilate a range of information and make decisions in a timely manner.
His technical expertise is demonstrated in his co-authorship of the best paper presented at the 2006 Water NZ Conference on converting the Woodend water supply to a biological treatment process to over-come Manganese staining and taste issues.
Gary’s leadership at the Waimakariri District Council has been focused on developing and implementing solutions to improve the Council’s water supply systems. This has required him to lead the assessment of their current condition, consider alternative solutions and obtain buy-in from the Council and community for their eventual design and construction.
He has done this with great skill and empathy which has seen his judgement and recommendations often accepted without question.
Community meetings were at times difficult, but Gary has special skills in persuading and explaining to bring people on board.
Gary was a winner of the Maunsell Young Leaders Award at the Ingenium Conference in 2005.
Gary played a huge part and took the lead in organising the immediate response on the ground in Kaiapoi to the September 2010 earthquake, where major parts of the water and wastewater systems were damaged. His role was crucial in bringing contractors, volunteers and staff together, planning, organising and directing them at an operational level as well as taking a strategic overview and responsibility for the response to restore water and wastewater services to around 3,000 properties in Kaiapoi, Pines Beach and Kairaki.
During the February 2011 earthquake Gary was seconded in to help out Christchurch City Council to provide advice and lead the establishment of a beach intake to allow for the installation of a desalination plant.
During the recovery from these earthquakes, Gary has been key, initially in his role as Utilities Manager during the first year when the Council had an infrastructure recovery team in place. Since then he has lead the project control group for the Council’s infrastructure recovery programme, which had about 60 projects and a budget of $44 million. This work was in addition to his business as usual tasks which since 2012 was leading the Council’s Project Delivery Unit which provides engineering services for WDC and includes approximately 22 engineers.