29 August 2022

Why I work in water: Daniel Livingston

Image credit: Lucy Parakhina.

Drought, bushfires and devastating floods: the Hunter Region has battled through extreme weather conditions over the past few years.

For Hunter Water, climate change presents significant challenges to the way water and wastewater infrastructure is managed. To achieve action on climate change and maintain affordable services for customers, Hunter Water has set a carbon reduction target to be net zero by 2035.

“Our community has told us that reducing our carbon emissions is important to them,” Program Lead Sustainable Wastewater, Daniel Livingston, says.

“It also makes sense to Hunter Water as we are exposed to the impacts of climate change, with many of our low-lying sites and equipment likely to be among the first impacted by rising waters, as well as more frequent and severe storm events in our region.”

After graduating with a civil engineering degree, Daniel travelled to Madagascar, East Africa, to volunteer as part of a humanitarian project.

“Here I learned the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation because I saw how not having access to it affected the health and wellbeing of people,” he says.

When he returned to Australia, Daniel completed a PhD in institutions and decentralised urban water management before working in humanitarian development in Laos.

His main role now is leading Hunter Water’s carbon strategy.

Hunter Water is one of the biggest consumers of electricity in the Hunter, providing water and wastewater services to almost 600,000 people in homes and businesses across the region.

With some infrastructure – Water Treatment Plants, Wastewater Treatment Works and Pumping Stations – operating 24 hours a day, Hunter Water is constantly looking for ways to be more sustainable.

“Over the past two years, we have installed 5,000 solar panels at our Wastewater Treatment Works and other sites, making us one of the largest local producers of solar power.
Daniel Livingston, Program Lead Sustainable Wastewater

“We also generate renewable energy from the treatment process at one of our wastewater plants and are looking to expand this capability in the future.

“Making our wastewater treatment processes more sustainable and energy efficient is increasingly important.”

For Daniel, working in the water industry aligns strongly with his personal values of helping people and making the world a better place.

“A key passion of mine is sustainable development, which, for me, is ensuring that our activities, and their impacts, are consistent with everyone else being able to reach their full potential, both now and into the future,” he says.

Visit our Sustainability page for more information on our projects and initiatives.