Time to wake up, a little earlier than my usual, but I am heading to the Coromandel Peninsula to do some field work out there, so I have to get on the road early. I have a quick shower and change into my field gear, which is so much easier (and quicker) than deciding what to wear to the office!
I get a text from my workmate, she’s outside to pick me up. I jump in the car and we’re on the road! I spend the time in the car catching up on what’s new in the world, preparing for the day and what needs to be done at each site. The drive is about two hours to our first site, so we just listen to some music and catch up for the rest of the journey.
We have made it to one of our sites, we have a busy day ahead and have three sites to get to today. We quickly let the team know back in the office that we have made it safely and then get all our equipment together for work. Today we are doing groundwater, surface water and air-quality monitoring at our sites, so there is a lot of equipment involved!
We go on the hunt for our first groundwater monitoring well, which can be tricky sometimes when we’ve never been to the site (we once had to hire a metal detector to locate one). Luckily, the site is not too overgrown, and we manage to find the well pretty quickly and set up to begin the sampling. We use a pump that pulls water up through the well and passes through a flow cell that holds a sonde, a piece of equipment that can tell us in real time the pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and redox potential of the water. These parameters can move around as the water is pumped from the well and once they have stabilised the sample is taken. It takes about 30-45 minutes to sample a well. In the meantime, we take notes on the parameters and label some jars to collect our samples in.
On to the next well and this one is harder to locate. We eventually find it in the middle of some bushes, so setting up our equipment is a little more difficult. Again, we take notes about the water quality being pulled up from the well and prepare our sample jars.
On to our third and final well for the day. This one is straightforward, and we manage to locate it, set up and sample it in 45 minutes — record time! This site has previously leached contaminants into the groundwater, so we are monitoring the groundwater to see whether the contaminant concentrations are decreasing. We will send these samples to a laboratory to be analysed and then write up a report for the client about the findings.
We leave site and head towards our next site, which is up the peninsula a few bays around, and it’s about a 45-minute drive. On the way, we stop and have our lunch at a scenic lookout, which is quite possibly the prettiest place I have ever had lunch at!!
We arrive at the next site and update our team in the office on our movements. We are taking two surface-water samples at this location, one upstream and one downstream of the site so we can assess whether it is having any environmental impacts on the stream. Sample collection is relatively quick and easy for surface water — we use a long, extendable stick called a mighty gripper, so we don’t have to get too close to the water.
On to the next site. We jump in the car and head to the next one to do some air quality monitoring and more surface-water sampling.
We arrive on site and are straight into it! We quickly go grab surface water samples from a stream and then get started with the air-quality monitoring. We use three different machines to measure different gases. We are monitoring methane, carbon dioxide, oxygen, hydrogen sulphide and volatiles.
Home time! We leave site after a big day and head back to the office. It is typical for my job to have slightly longer days when site work is required, but AECOM is really good with flexibility and work-life balance, so I can bank my extra hours as ‘flex-time’. Flex-time enables you to build up extra hours and then when you reach eight you can use that to take a day off in the next month. Being out in the field, I have been able to use the programme and have had an extra day off every month I’ve worked here!
We make it home after a long day and just in time for pizza Friday!! We have some pizza, drinks and play some table tennis after a busy day and week!