Many students who have completed courses provided by the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management are working in interesting and dynamic roles in the water management sector. Below are a few examples.
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Dr. Megan Devane
Megan’s PhD investigated faecal contamination sources in both urban and rural environments. After the February 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, she examined the discharge of sewage into the Avon (Ōtakaro) River, determining the relationship between faecal indicators like Escherichia coli and the pathogens (disease-causing organisms) present in the sewage. Megan tracked sources of faecal contamination using molecular DNA tools and chemicals, and followed the fate of these faecal source markers over time in both water and sediment. Research in a rural context involved monitoring the microbial degradation patterns of cowpats to determine how degradation would impact on faecal source markers used to identify cow faecal pollution.
Since the completion of her PhD studies at the end of 2016, Megan has worked at ESR Ltd, providing advice to Regional and City Council scientists who are investigating the potential sources of elevated E. coli in their waterways in both the urban and rural sectors.
Megan’s career goals are to contribute to making waterways safer as places for swimming and as drinking water sources.
Dr. Sean Waters
Sean completed a PhD on phosphorus dynamics in shallow coastal lake systems between 2011 and 2015. The PhD had lots of variety, problem solving and head-scratching. It set Sean up well for dealing with the research projects he is involved in professionally. The supervision and guidance at WCFM was excellent and there were great opportunities to establish contacts in the wider NZ and international water research/management community. This networking was critical for getting a foot on the working ladder.
Sean works as a freshwater scientist at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson, specialising in lakes studies (limnology) and aquatic geochemistry. His professional goal is simple – conduct good science and contribute to the informed management of water resources in this country.
He is currently working on a five year research program called “Lakes 380- Our lakes health, past, present, future”. This project investigates the present day state and environmental histories of 380 lakes across the country using water quality, sediment geochemistry, eDNA and molecular techniques, and paleolimnology studies. Other projects include biomass surveys of benthic algal mats in freshwater reservoirs, and projects to understand nutrient and carbon budgets in various lakes with a view to informing restoration planning.
Sean’s job is varied and stimulating, ranging from flying into a beautiful alpine lake to collect sediment cores to processing samples in the laboratory and dealing with data in the office. The folk he works with are passionate, practical and fun and he gets to spend time all over the country in beautiful (and some not so beautiful!!) places.
Masters in Water Resource Management
Courtenay completed her Masters in in February 2018 which gave her a good general knowledge related to water management which can be applied to everyday situations. It also gave her a range of practical skills for field work and research, and the tools to analyse results and question the status quo.
Courtenay is now working for WSP Opus in Wellington as a graduate water resource scientist. She assists with big and small projects, including looking after hydrological data for electricity generators, restoration of Lake Omapere in Northland, and an integrated water management project for the Wairarapa area. The variety of work addressing water management problems which needs integrated and creative solutions makes every day interesting and keeps her constantly learning.
Mando Chitondo (image left: holding the red diary) completed her Masters degree in March 2017, exploring approaches for returning research findings to communities in Ndola, Zambia. The WRM qualification transformed her into a critical thinker and confident decision maker, capable of successfully conducting surveys, developing communication material for targeted audience and delivering high quality work to clients. This has enabled her to win contracts and deliver them within the required timelines.
Mando is now running her own consultancy business, working with the Zambian Government and international organisations such as Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), Food and agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Water Stewardship Programme (IWaSP). She especially enjoys engaging with stakeholders in the water sector and understanding the issues they face. This information is used to develop local Water Management Plans at the sub-catchment level where the local water governance structures are established. Long term, she hopes to significantly contribute to management of the optimal use of water resources for the benefit of communities and local economies.
Post Graduate Diploma in Water Resource Management
Ellen Williamson graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Water Resource Management in 2018, and almost immediately secured a role with a Biodiversity Project Support Summer Student at Environment Canterbury for 2018/2019. The project requires Ellen to identify and assess potential barriers to fish passage in the tributaries to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. While previous projects have focussed on barriers assessable from the roadside, this project traverses private property with land owner permission and visit areas in the catchment previously unassessed. The barriers are mapped using a method and cell phone application developed by NIWA. Ellen loves the diversity of work that the project involves. “Every day brings something new, whether that be in the office or out in the field”. Ellen has found that the variety of Water Resource Management papers offered at undergraduate and postgraduate levels has enabled her to develop a diverse skill set that is easily transferable into a professional environment. The practicality of these skills allowed her to gain the ECAN Summer student role, and her plan is to continue advancing a career in the water management space.
A Post Graduate Diploma (completed in 2014) complemented on-the-job learning in Kelly’s role at Environment Canterbury, supporting the Implementation of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. He is now working as a Manager of the Mana Taiao team at the Ministry for the Environment. The role of the team is to lead and support effective partnering with Māori and iwi to make Aotearoa New Zealand uniquely liveable. Kelly’s passion is making a difference and driving improved outcomes for Māori, recognising that health and well-being are intrinsically linked to the environment.
William completed his PGDIP in 2016, which gave him a foot in the door to the irrigation sector. He is now working for Water Force, which is an irrigation company that provides design and service solutions for the agricultural, domestic and civil markets. Will’s goal is to help farmers reduce their environmental footprint through increasing water-use efficiency. One tool he is using is SCADAfarm, which is an online water management platform that farmers use to control their irrigation system remotely, enabling them to make more strategic decisions about irrigation, plus provide proof of effective irrigation and effluent management. Will particularly enjoys engaging with farmers and providing them with solutions that allow them to fulfil their regulatory requirements and make their businesses more profitable. Understanding the regulatory requirements has proved to be especially useful as this is often misunderstood in the agricultural industry.