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Job title: Managing Director, Groundwater Modeller and Chief Tea Boy
What are your qualifications?
BSc in Physics; MSc in Water Resources Technology and Management
What exactly does a Groundwater Modeller do?
A Groundwater Modeller uses modelling software to simulate groundwater flow in aquifers. Simulations often include representation of groundwater abstractions and interactions with rivers and other surface water bodies. At the start of a groundwater modelling project all available information and data relating to conditions in the aquifer are collated and analysed. The information available varies from project to project, but generally includes some or all of the following: groundwater level measurements, river flow measurements, well pumping records, results of pumping test analyses, geological information (maps, borehole logs), topographic data, rainfall data, evaporation data, soil and land use data, etc. A groundwater model is constructed from information relating to geological structure and aquifer properties. Once the model is set up it can be used to simulate groundwater levels and river flows. Once the representation of levels and flows is considered good enough, the model can then be used to predict what might happen under different conditions, such as changed pumping rates, climate change scenarios, etc.
What sort of organisation do you work for?
I’ve been self employed since I set up my own company three years ago. Previously I was employed at various hydrogeology consultancy firms, some of which I now work for on a contract basis. Most of the projects I work on are for the Environment Agency, water companies and mining companies.
Do you travel within the UK or overseas very much?
Most groundwater modelling takes place sitting in front of a computer, but there is currently quite high demand for Groundwater Modellers nationally and internationally. I typically travel within the UK for site visits and meetings one or two days each month and overseas for a few weeks at a time once or twice a year.
Apart from formal qualifications, what other skills or characteristics do you need?
Groundwater modelling requires numeracy and good problem-solving skills.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy developing an understanding of the natural water environment, and also the problem-solving aspects of groundwater modelling. The opportunities for travel it can bring are also a bonus.
What advice or information do you wish you’d had before starting this career?
It would have been useful to have had more background knowledge of geology, although this does come with experience to a certain degree. Some more information about the various sub-disciplines and applications of groundwater modelling would also have been useful. Generally there seems to be three main disciplines (water resources, contaminated land, and mining) with hydrogeology consultancies specialising in one or more of these. Smaller sub-disciples include hydro-geothermal, coastal and island hydrogeology, etc.