A typical day starts early. Avoiding the morning traffic is essential so as to arrive on site on time. Being based from home means that an amount of travel is always necessary On arrival at site it is necessary to spend 10-15 minutes reporting into site staff for a safety briefing and being made aware of site issues that affect the scheduled day’s work.
An environmental monitoring technician’s role requires preparation, organisation and importantly time management. Getting your equipment organised can save time throughout the day. There is a lot of equipment used to carrying out environmental monitoring, from landfill gas instruments to sample bottles. Also dressing in the appropriate clothing and personal protective equipment is essential, in the summer you’ll need sun cream and in the winter waterproofs and a woolly.
Monitoring generally begins with a perimeter sweep of the gas boreholes, recording the concentrations of gas in each point as you walk around. Each point takes several minutes to monitor. Once the gas monitoring is finished you move onto the leachate monitoring. This involves recording the levels of liquid within the well and taking samples of leachate by filling the sample bottles. Leachate can be hazardous so wearing gloves and eye protection is essential.
Groundwater monitoring, like leachate, involves recording the liquid level in the boreholes, but unlike leachate sampling groundwater isn’t generally pumped by on site equipment. To purge and pump the groundwater we carry a small pump to the borehole in order to ensure representative water sample is obtained.
Finally, surface water sampling involves taking samples from a stream or pond or watercourse. From this sample a test for pH, electrical conductivity and temperature of the sample is often carried out. After signing out from the site offices, reporting results and any problems, you then leave the site for the journey back.
At the office, the data you have gathered is then exported into an excel spreadsheet; this can take anything from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. A degree of computer literacy is essential as incorrect entry of data can lead to problems. This role is great if you enjoy being outdoors in all weather, lots of walking and fresh air, and you occasionally will be rewarded by spotting the fabulous birds and wildlife.