To Be, Or Not To Be – A Career In Hydrogeology: Some Anecdotes And Advice From Adventure And Exploration Over The Past 30 Years

A hydrogeologist studies the ways that groundwater (hydro) exists within and moves through the soil and rock of the earth (geology). How we use this knowledge for the good of the environment and society will lead to our success as hydrogeologists and environmental game-changers. Within the broad field of hydrogeology there exist several specialist domains. One may be more of a specialist in groundwater supply, resource management and monitoring issues. Or one may concentrate on subsurface contamination issues. Or be more slightly removed in areas such as geophysics and specialised modelling. Field experience as a young hydrogeologist is essential to establish a foundation for good science. Early specialisation is however occurring to the detriment of first understanding the essentials of basic hydrogeology. Data collection, collation, interrogation and interpretation all contribute to the report. It is the presentation of the findings in a manner that can be understood by the layman, general public and authority groups that is important. For the field of hydrogeology to obtain the recognition it deserves in South Africa, the hydrogeological fraternity will need to become more ‘heard’ and ‘active players’ in managing the country’s scarce water resources. It is one thing to develop a groundwater supply scheme, but the role of the hydrogeologist must continue with the long term monitoring and management of that supply scheme to ensure its success. This presentation draws on the more than 30 years of experience that the author has had as a practising hydrogeologist in South Africa. The oral presentation of this paper has as its intention to excite passion for the profession of hydrogeology. Reminisces made will show the pleasure of experiences gained and provide guidance to young entrants to the profession. Being a hydrogeologist provides one with the opportunity to be a ‘player in the field’ and contribute to sustainable life and societal well-being. Being a player is more exciting than being a spectator, so engage in how you can enjoy your game.

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South Africa
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