Learn more about the people who work in Environment Agency geoscience teams.
Technical Officer 1 (Groundwater and Contaminated Land team)
Straight after completing my A-levels I started working as a technician for a site investigation company. After six years, I had completed an HNC in Civil Engineering and progressed to being a senior technician, eventually leaving to undertake a degree in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics.
During my final year at university I began looking at potential careers, including with the Environment Agency. I found the Geoscience section on the website, and saw it offered areas of work which fitted with my background and interests at university. I sent a broad speculative CV and covering letter to the geoscience recruitment email account. A month later, I received a phone call and email from the Groundwater & Contaminated Land team in Sussex. Very quickly I had lots of information about a job and a date for an interview, and a couple of weeks after graduating I starting work as a Technical Officer.
My team is part of an Area Office, providing technical support to other teams at a local level, on all matters concerning groundwater protection and contamination. We help to regulate developments through planning applications, influence Local Development Plans, respond to pollution incidents and deal with enquiries from consultants to members of the public. We also manage investigation work as part of our legislative duties.
The job is varied, challenging and rewarding; and as a result we often get to see environmental improvements and protection from our work.
Technical Specialist (Groundwater & Contaminated Land team)
I joined the Environment Agency in 1997 having completed a PhD in hydrogeology researching the hydrogeological impact of mineral excavation and subsequent landfilling activities at a series of waste disposal sites in Southern England. I was keen to find a job that would let me apply and build on the theoretical and practical skills learnt during my academic studies – and the Environment Agency fitted the bill.
My first post was in the Thames region, assessing and approving geotechnical proposals for the design and construction of new landfill sites. I also ensured that water quality, leachate and landfill gas issues were addressed to be protective of the surrounding environment.
I then moved to a role that required dealing with a greater variety of groundwater quality issues and knowledge of environmental legislation. Working in an area which included North London, I was responsible for reviewing contaminated land site investigation reports and risk assessments.
After this I went on a secondment to work for the Groundwater Process Team. This team is responsible for providing support and guidance to area staff on groundwater quality issues, and drafting technical guidance to implement groundwater policy. I was given responsibility for a number of projects, and I gained particular satisfaction from helping to draft an operating agreement between the Environment Agency and a major UK petroleum retailer.
My current role is as a Technical Specialist in one of our Southern region Groundwater & Contaminated Land teams. I provide technical mentoring on complex sites or issues to groundwater and contaminated land officers across the region.
Throughout my various roles I’ve had the opportunity to develop technically whilst working alongside very professional and helpful colleagues.
Technical Officer 1 (Groundwater and Contaminated Land team)
I joined the Environment Agency in February 2006 after working as an environmental consultant for four years. It was the opportunities for training and development that attracted me to the role, together with the chance to get involved with some very complex and challenging contaminated sites.
My work is very varied. A key part is providing technical advice to local authorities and consultants to ensure that, as part of the planning process, land is remediated to an acceptable standard. I also support officers managing inspections of potential Special Sites under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act.
Training and development at the Environment Agency isn’t just limited to courses. Line managers are always very supportive of other ways of gaining skills and experience. There are opportunities to work with other teams or to support other officers working on complex projects. It’s really up to you to take ownership for your development and make the most of the opportunities available.
There are also opportunities to get involved in some really diverse contaminated land projects – from working with consultants to agree a remediation strategy for the redevelopment of a gasworks site to carrying out an inspection of a chemical landfill site under Part 2A. It’s great to be part of a team that works hard to achieve environmental improvements across the region and really make a difference.
Working at the Environment Agency is different in a number of ways. Not only is there real scope for developing your skills and experience but you also have a high level of responsibility for your own projects. From the day you join you are encouraged to think for yourself, to make sound professional judgements and to manage your own workload. It’s a challenging place to work and somewhere where your opinions and professional skills really count.
Senior Technical Specialist - Hydrogeology
I joined the Environment Agency at its inception, having started my career as graduate engineering geologist with North West Water Authority before moving over to the hydrogeology side. By the formation of the National Rivers Authority I had progressed from Assistant to Senior Hydrogeologist. I was then appointed Groundwater Resources Manager, leading a small team responsible for all aspects of groundwater resources assessment and management in North West England.
I continued in this role as we evolved into the Environment Agency during 1996. Since then I’ve been involved in some really exciting projects, including the challenge of project managing a number of aquifer scale groundwater modeling studies and then feeding this experience into a national modeling good practice guidance. I have also contributed to the development of the Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy (CAMS) process nationally, seeing it applied regionally as well as involvement in a number of other national projects and initiatives. However, one of my most challenging yet rewarding experiences was being in the thick of the foot and mouth outbreak that impacted so badly on Cumbria. The profile and reputation of our hydrogeologists was greatly enhanced by our contribution and support during this crisis.
Following the last major reorganisation within the Environment Agency, I was delighted to be appointed as the Senior Technical Specialist in hydrogeology for both our North West and North East regions. It’s a great opportunity to share the experiences of my 30 year career, mentoring and supporting more junior staff. One of the main aims of my role now is to enhance the sense that we are all a part of a ‘groundwater community’ to work as a team and see the bigger picture. I also enjoy my links with national policy and process colleagues, trying to bring a pragmatic, operational perspective to their decision making.
For the past 12 months I’ve combined my Senior Technical Specialist job with an assignment as Groundwater Team Leader, providing a supra-area hydrogeology service to the North West. Plus I’ve broadened my experience beyond hydrogeology, as I’m also on the North West’s regional flood forecasting rota which can be very challenging and exiting at times - I was on duty when Carlisle flooded in January 2005!