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Q&A: Talking with Hayden Porter, Water and Wastewater Process Engineer

Hayden Porter talks about his role in designing sustainable and resilient water infrastructure, what sparked his interest in water and how recognizing the intrinsic value of water will lead to more sustainable and resilient outcomes.

At Jacobs, we think differently about the future because today’s challenges demand innovative approaches to deliver a more connected, sustainable world. With a fierce commitment to the spaces we inhabit, both globally and environmentally, we’re continually reinvigorating our efforts to be responsible stewards of the natural world, as we contribute forward-thinking sustainable solutions for our clients.

We’re getting to know members of our water team who are solving the world’s most pressing challenges in water resilience and sustainability to shape the water industry of tomorrow.

Hayden shares insights on his role at Jacobs, what sparked his interest in a career in water and recognizing the intrinsic value of water to every aspect of our work in the water sector will lead to more sustainable and resilient outcomes.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Jacobs.

I’m a water and wastewater process engineer which means I work with our clients to figure out what we need to do to transform a source of water or waste to a quality suitable for drinking, discharge or reuse. There is a whole industry of processes out there that are developing all the time, so I work to stay up to speed with the latest trends as well as working with proven technologies that have been around for generations. My focus area is wastewater treatment process design.

My work with Jacobs started in Vancouver, Canada four years ago and a year ago I moved back home to Auckland, New Zealand. From billion-dollar city-scale projects in Vancouver and Auckland to smaller scale treatment plants in the gulf islands of British Columbia or New Zealand’s far north, I’ve worked on a wide range of projects.

I also lead a team of mechanical, process and advisory services engineers who sit in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

What sparked your interest in a career in water/engineering?

Throughout my time at school I had an interest in STEAM subjects so the next step to study engineering was an easy choice. The importance of clean water and sanitation globally started me on the path toward a career in the water sector. I really value the opportunity to apply my talents to deliver vital infrastructure for our towns and cities.

What’s your favorite part of your role?

The best moments in my role are when I can work with a great team - collaborating with our clients and Jacobs team mates to deliver water infrastructure that provides for growth of a town or city, while also providing an environmental benefit.

Tell us about an exciting project you have worked on or are working on.

An example of one of those moments I mentioned above was working on the Northwest Langley Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade project with Metro Vancouver. Most of my time in Vancouver was spent on the preliminary design of a new regional facility at Northwest Langley, which was essentially a new greenfield development to service a population of 230,000 people. By the end of the preliminary design, we received endorsement from the board on a process design which goes above and beyond the federally mandated minimum requirements to improve the effluent quality and reduce the environmental impacts on the Fraser River where the plant will discharge. I collaborated with the Metro Vancouver team to share the journey of selecting an enhanced treatment process locally and at the global Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference.

I look forward to seeing the construction completed and the plant up and running in the coming years!

What are some of the key considerations that will help drive a more resilient and sustainable Three Waters sector in New Zealand?

We have started on the journey toward thinking about water differently. A key step on that journey has been the acknowledgment of Te Mana o Te Wai – the vital importance of water. Applying this concept of the intrinsic value of water to every aspect of our work in the water sector will lead to more sustainable outcomes and resiliency in the face of increasing impacts of climate change.

What excites you about the future of water in New Zealand?

I’m excited that we’re tackling the challenges facing the water sector. The water sector is entering a transition period with the Three Waters reform process, new regulator and changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA.) Work in the lead up to these changes has identified the amount of work needed to meet the needs of our communities and the environment; there is a lot to do! It’s up to us as a sector to meet the challenges ahead.

Picture of a young boy in a bucket hat with his father crouching down to look at the beach with him

If you aren’t in the office, what would we most likely find you doing?

Most likely I’ll be spending time with my wife and son, doing things around the house or catching up with family and friends. I love the ocean and getting out to the beach and I try to get out surfing when I can, which is not as often as I would like these days.

What do you enjoy most about being part of Jacobs?

I really enjoy the global connectivity of Jacobs. Being able to connect with passionate professionals at the top of their field globally is fantastic. Having worked overseas I’ve been able to bring some of the connections I’ve made back with me to New Zealand and I’m looking forward to what we can bring from around the world to meet the needs of New Zealand.

Join #OurJacobs team

What drives you drives us as we work to build a better world – together. At Jacobs, every day is an opportunity to make the world better, more connected, more sustainable.

We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together.

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