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Environment, Agriculture & Conservation careers

Water Resources: Management, Quality & Pollution Control

Testing the water…

If you’ve ever come across a soiled nappy whilst swimming in the Irish Sea off the beaches of Blackpool, you’ll know that water pollution is a bit of a problem. Not just in Blackpool, of course, but in Great Britain and across the entire world. That’s why we all need the people who work in the exciting world of water resource management, quality control and pollution prevention careers.

Why is it important? What does it involve?

Companies and individuals sometimes dump their waste into lakes and the sea thinking that it will just disappear, but it doesn’t. It stays there and it contaminates our water system. That’s why the government and independent companies employ people to monitor the amount of waste they’re emitting.

These roles come with quite a lot of responsibility and require specific technical expertise. Consequently, if you’ve got a degree in a relevant subject, such as environmental science, biology or chemistry, you’ll stand a much better chance of breaking into this line of work.

It’s absolutely essential that you build up your knowledge on the scientific and practical side of this subsector. Careers in environmental clean-up are becoming increasingly popular these days, so it’s important to try and separate yourself from the flock of rivals.

Try to get some work experience. Even if it’s not specific to water pollution control, a work experience role related to the environment will show any potential employers that you have a genuine passion for saving the planet!

Break it down for me a little bit!

The most common role in this discipline is that of the water pollution technician. These guys work alongside engineers and scientists to minimise the pollution emitted by companies into the UK’s many bodies of water.

Day-to-day, a lot of a water pollution control technician’s time is spent sampling. If you ever collected tadpoles as a youngster, you’ll kind of know what sort of thing we’re talking about. However, rather than eventually flushing the sample down the toilet, they will monitor and test the water with the aim of minimising pollution in the long run.

These samples can be taken from pretty much any body of water. However, it’s most likely that you’ll be working in areas near industrial or commercial sites. Once samples have been collected, they make a short trip to laboratories where extensive testing for pollution levels is carried out.

If anything dodgy, harmful or hazardous is found, then action needs to be taken. Clean-up procedures need to be planned, organised and implemented and environmental consultancy services need to be offered to offending parties to help them to reduce their water pollution levels in the future.

Your day might involve anything from measuring water pollution in lakes and rivers near factories, to designing innovative schemes and campaigns to improve the quality of water used by people every day.

You might kick start your career in a more hands-on position, installing and operating all the technical equipment that’s used to gather samples of water. You’ll be using your mathematical and analytical skills to take readings and then using your results to offer advice to clients on how they can decrease their pollution levels.

The next step on the ladder might involve becoming a full-time water quality inspector or an environmental consultant who specialises in water pollution issues. At this level, you won’t be carrying out the nitty-gritty sample-taking and analysis work. Instead, you’ll be making client visits to commercial companies and industrial organisations, inspecting their current pollution levels and then working with them to help them stop producing hazardous discharges.

If you’re interested in a career in water resource management, quality and pollution control check out the following occupational profiles to find out more: