Principal Groundwater Technician, Phil Abraham works in ESR’s Water, Health & Environment group.
Phil has an engineering background and BSc (Hons) degree in Geology from Canterbury University
Phil has over 25 years experience working in the natural resources industry both overseas, as an exploration geologist, and in New Zealand for Environment Canterbury as a Groundwater Technician. For the last nine years, Phil has worked in the area of groundwater research at ESR.
The role of a Groundwater Technician requires a good understanding of groundwater systems, chemistry and geology. The groundwater team works on a variety of science projects, mainly focused on characterising the bio-physical properties of New Zealand groundwater systems and studying how contaminants of concern are transported in the subsurface. More recently, Phil and the team have been focusing on solutions to groundwater pollution, such as nitrate contamination from intensified farming, or microbial contamination from land-based effluent disposal practices. The team is also currently researching the function, composition and vulnerability of groundwater ecosystems.
Phil's role sees him working in the laboratory, in the office, as well as in the field - often in remote locations - which he enjoys as a keen outdoors person. The role is incredibly varied; on any given day you can find Phil undertaking laboratory experiments, groundwater surveys or contaminant investigations on a regional or local scale. Tasks range from installation of monitoring equipment, groundwater and surface water sampling, or sediment logging on drilling rigs. The data collected is captured in databases and a satisfying part of the job is doing GIS analysis to visualise spatial patterns in the data and produce maps for scientific publications.
The best part about his job is communicating with clients, understanding their needs, and working with them on a solution - "I really enjoy turning scientific ideas into practical experiments that deliver robust high-quality data".