Recognising the important role of water engineers

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Recognising the important role of water engineers

The role of a water resources engineer is one that has a direct impact on everyone’s lives, even if they know little about it. At a basic level, it’s thanks to these individuals that we have regular access to clean and safe water, whenever we want it. On a more advanced footing, it is these individuals who are helping to protect our future water supply. However, despite the vital role they play in our daily lives, many people are not always aware of the role or appreciate that it is a discipline in itself. 

The concept of water security has become increasingly researched and talked about, as the impacts of rapid and global urbanisation, coupled with climate change mean we are frequently forced to navigate floods and drought in different areas of the world. The impact of these can be dramatic, leading to damage to crops, food scarcity and the destruction of towns and villages. A water resources engineer plays a vital role in helping to understand these issues and find solutions to prevent them from occurring – helping to put initiatives such as harvesting rainwater or reclaiming wastewater into practice. 

Over the next few years, water resources engineers are likely to be increasingly called upon to help review the UK’s current water infrastructure, to ensure it is set up for success well into the future. As a result, one hiring trend we are seeing in the industry is the increasing demand for water engineers to assist with automation. Increased innovation in the sector means that pumps and processes are being automated to make them work more effectively – helping them to keep up with modern demand. 

This role has recently been brought to the fore, as individuals in water resources are playing an integral role in helping against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with groups across the country looking at ways to track the spread of the virus using wastewater. One such group is the Centre for Water Systems at the University of Exeter. Through their ‘Sewers4COVID’ plan, their aim is to reduce costly individual testing by analysing sewage samples on a daily basis. Under this regular surveillance, they can identify outbreaks of the disease in real time, so that targeted restrictions can be implemented immediately – helping to slow the spread of the virus. Through high profile initiatives such as these, the discipline will benefit from the public recognition it deserves. 

As the Institution of Civil Engineers points out, water engineering is a rewarding and viable career option, and there are plenty of roles out there across all areas of the UK. Naturally it requires a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, but there are options to specialise in the area through postgraduate degrees. Roles are varied, and individuals can work at some of the large water works companies, university research departments, the UK’s regulators or specialist environmental consultancies. It’s is a hugely interesting area of work with a lot of scope for progression, and the importance of the role is only likely to increase further into the future.

To find out more about roles in the sector or to discuss your hiring needs, please get in touch with us.

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