Water careers

BRGM and its partners present a series of portraits of people with careers in the water industry sector. 
15 April 2020

We invite you to watch this series of video portraits representing the variety of water careers. We interviewed scientists, engineers and technicians and asked them about their jobs in the water industry, be it out in the field or in the office or the laboratory. 

Delphine Allier, BRGM hydrogeologist

Video portrait of Delphine Allier, a BRGM hydrogeologist. Hydrogeology aims to better understand water, an essential resource for life. 

© Centre Sciences 

After a science high-school degree and preparatory classes, I entered an engineering school: ENTPE, National School of Public Works of the State. After that, I specialized in the environment. 

I've always wanted a job that allows me to interact with my environment and apply my beliefs, and water was my first attraction. I've started out by doing groundwater mapping. And as groundwater resources are invisible, they're quite difficult to map. You need to understand how they interact with man, whether there are relationships between groundwater and surface water, and how, when water is required for irrigation or drinking water, we will extract the groundwater, and whether there is enough to satisfy needs. Plus also, regarding quality, we ensure it's of a high level and well protected from different kinds of surface pollution. We know very little about aquifers and water tables in France and worldwide. So we still have many things to discover. Working in research is very satisfying, because we're the guarantors, in a way, of a science. Plus we pass this on to others. We take part in a lot of conferences and training sessions, so you get a real feeling that you're contributing to resource management. That's also very satisfying because it's a concrete contribution. One of the advantages in scientific research is that you're free to organize your time depending on your projects. Plus the work can be very varied. You can work in the office doing lots of mapping or doing modelling on a computer. You can also take part in international projects where you go out into the field. Or you can work with the laboratory technicians. So there's a wide variety of choices on offer. We also take part in putting together new projects. So if there's something we care about or good partnerships to be forged for a project, then we can decide to set up a project with teams we get on well with. So we have great freedom in choosing our projects and in managing our daily work.

Water careers: certified hydrogeologist and water resource manager

Arnaud Le Gal, a certified hydrogeologist and water resource manager at the Morbihan water board, talks about his job in an interview by SIGES Brittany.

Arnaud describes his job in water resource management and optimisation, and the management of water works projects. He explains what it means specifically to be a hydrogeologist certified by the Ministry of Health.

© BRGM

SIGES Brittany In Partnership With Presents Careers That Make You Thirsty!

Arnaud Le Gal

46 years old

Hydrogeologist and Water Specialist

21 years of service

Morbihan Water Union

What's the Morbihan Water Union?

The Morbihan Water Union, where I work, is an organizing structure for the drinking water service dealing with production and transport. We also work on distribution to our end users.

What do you do?

I work on resource management, with waterworks, production, groundwater, surface water, and linkages. And I interact with the operators of our factories and our production plants. We're also facility project managers, from designing and building to running. All the building work, the studies, etc., linked to these plants.

Where does Morbihan's tap water come from?

In this region, in Morbihan, as across the Massif Armoricain, it's mostly surface water, about 80 percent. Samples are taken according to available flows and the volume in reservoirs. So much of my work is managing and optimizing water in our interconnected network.

What did you study?

I'm a geologist. I did a BA and an MA in Earth Sciences at Rennes and a postgraduate diploma in Chemical Pollution and the Environment.

What are the skills required for your career?

The skills required are being interested in other activities and skills, not just hydrogeology and geology. Especially the environmental aspects - pollution, agriculture, etc. - and the legal aspects, for authorization requests.

What's a licensed hydrogeologist?

Licensed hydrogeologists are licensed by the Ministry of Health for public sanitation. We are called upon by the regional health agencies for specific dossiers.

- Catchment Protection Perimeters - Groundwater Safety

As a drop of water, where would you be?

I probably wouldn't be in the water table, but in a river. Brittany has fine waterways. And it's nice to walk by a river.

SIGES Brittany

More information at sigesbre.brgm.fr

Water careers: river technician

Guillaume Deray, a river technician at the water board for La Seiche catchment basin describes his job in an interview by SIGES Brittany.

The job of a river technician consists in restoring the natural properties of vulnerable streams and rivers. Find out about the person specification and qualifications to do this job. 

© BRGM

SIGES Brittany In Partnership With Presents Careers That Make You Thirsty!

Guillaume Deray

34 years old

River Technician

Seiche Basin Union

8 years of service

What is the Seiche Basin Union?

I work at the Seiche Basin Union. Our main task is improving water quality and the water environment.

What do you do?

A river technician's job is to carry out restoration work on rivers and wetlands. To carry out the work, we consult with property owners. We carry out a study of the proposed work zone and the upriver area, to understand pressures. Once the study is approved, we launch a tender to choose a company for the work. The technician oversees the work during the summer until completion.

What kinds of studies do you carry out?

There are two types: on the upriver basin section, to understand soil occupation and pressures, and on the sector itself, to define the restoration zone.

Why must rivers be restored?

Rivers and wetlands were greatly changed during land consolidation in the 60s and 70s. The work was carried out on a vast area and had a huge impact on water quality. So the waterways' natural cleansing abilities were damaged. Biodiversity decreased greatly on river banks and beds. And it impacted the basin's water regime, with significant flooding upriver and greater aridity in summer.

What's the link between rivers and groundwater?

The water that flows along a river comes mainly from groundwater. It's about 50 to 60 percent. The rest comes from runoff. Brittany's subsoil is composed of granite and schist and contains little water, so our rivers are very low in summer. So it's a vulnerable environment.

What do you like about your career?

I enjoy the variety of tasks that I have to perform. They change from month to month, even from year to year. And having contact with locals and meeting different people.

What do you not like?

The consultation process can be very long. We can consult for three years for three weeks of work.

What did you study?

I did a Masters in Basin Management and Water Systems at Tours. But a diploma in management and protection is sufficient to do this work with the Basin Union.

What are the skills required for this career?

You need good people skills and an ability to connect, and you should be very inquisitive and able to take initiative to advance action plans.

Your favourite saying?

"The biggest failure is not trying."

SIGES Brittany

More information at sigesbre.brgm.fr