NAME: Gareth Digges La Touche
CURRENT TITLE: Principal Hydrogeologist and Associate
AREA OF EXPERTISE: Hydrogeology, well test analysis, fractured aquifers, mine water management
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 24
EDUCATION: BSc Geology & Geography; MSc Computing in Earth Science; MSc Hydrogeology
Golder Associates article by Gareth on Working with Water dated 7/15/15.
What’s your job like?
I provide technical leadership and direction as a Principal Hydrogeologist within Golder Associates’ mining services business. We work across the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa and the rest of the world in a diverse range of areas including for example: groundwater studies for new mines and quarries, both for Environmental & Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs), groundwater management and dewatering system design; and water supply studies and hydraulic fracturing studies for shale gas development. My hydrogeological colleagues in other parts of the business focus on groundwater studies for infrastructure projects, landfill risk assessments and contaminated land studies for industrial sites and nuclear power plant decommissioning.
We typically work as part of a multidisciplinary team so will often be working with geologists, mining engineers, ecologists, civil engineers and other professionals to deliver a study that meets the needs of the client. Often we will be working directly with the client and may be supporting them in negotiations with regulators, such as the Environment Agency in England or government authorities in other parts of the world.
Being part of a global consulting organization of around 6,500 people with 165 offices across the world means there is always someone somewhere who can help answer the question. Having that global resource behind us is fantastic both for our team and our clients.
What’s a typical day like?
I’m not so sure there is such a thing as a typical day in consultancy. It could vary from reviewing a report written by one of the team prior to issuing to the client, to meetings with one of our clients, to visiting a mine site in Kyrgyzstan, Armenia or Greenland, to understanding their operations, to getting an insight into the hydrogeological/hydrological setting, to planning a groundwater investigation as part of an ESIA or Feasibility Study (FS). Lately I’ve been on a number of underground visits to understand water ingress issues into operating mines, which is always interesting.
What is not fun? I’m lucky in that I’ve steered a career path through that has allowed me to work on some interesting projects both at home, in the UK and overseas. For me, setting aside the fact that the novelty of airports soon wears off, visiting new and interesting places with different people, cultures and geologies is the fun. Favourites to date are Greenland, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
Fitting everything in. We work toward deadlines that are outside of our control and sometimes you can find a project timeline dramatically compressed. Having to juggle timescales, budgets and producing high quality work that meets the needs of the client are some of the skills a consultant needs.
What’s your advice to students?
It is never too late to learn. I started my career as a geophysicist for an oilfield service company before doing an MSc in Hydrogeology. Being adaptable will never do you any harm. If you want to do something take, or make, the opportunity when it presents itself even if it requires you to go out of your way to deliver. Never stop learning: science is continually evolving and there is always more to learn. Do what you enjoy so that your career is enjoyable!