Every year, Hunter Water uses about 1,600 truckloads of biosolids as a soil conditioner on agricultural farms and to rehabilitate mine sites.
Despite these benefits, the organisation is working hard to deliver other ways to manage biosolids – mostly a mix of water and organic material leftover after wastewater goes through a treatment plant – in the future.
“Wouldn’t it be cool to keep using these biosolids beneficially but also treat them in a way that we can power the wastewater treatment plant, reduce our greenhouse gases, and create a better product that could be utilised by more people?” asks Jennifer Maverick, who is Assisting Program Lead Biosolids and Resources at Hunter Water.
Jennifer normally works in the Wastewater Network Operations team, which involves managing the response to environmental incidents or pollution events, reporting these incidents to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and restoring the environment.
“Another part of my role that I’m really passionate about is coming up with programs or processes to proactively reduce the occurrence of pollution events,” she says.
Jennifer joined Hunter Water as an environmental engineer in May 2019 after helping to deliver the Newcastle Light Rail Project with a civil firm.
Her decision to become an engineer stemmed from an experience overseas.
“This led to me living in a meditation ashram in India for three months.
“When I was there, I witnessed a fateful event and decided to do what I had always wanted to do when I was a little girl and become an engineer.
“I studied this while working full time at a bank and running a Pilates business. That took a lot of late nights and a whole lot of chocolate.”
Jennifer previously used her psychology and business degree qualifications to manage and drive the performance of teams during 12 years in the finance industry.
She also worked in hospitality, taking over a rundown café in the Hunter Valley and transforming it into an award-winner while juggling university studies.
Outside of work, she has created, and secured funding for, a Pollination Corridor Program.
Its first phase is to increase urban habitat for pollinators and small birds by partnering with residents and businesses to ‘Spare a Square’ of garden beds, pots or vertical gardens.
These ‘squares’ are Geographic Information System (GIS) mapped, allowing a strategic approach to habitat creation.
Jennifer also worked with the GIS team at Hunter Water to roll out an explorer app, which she believes has saved many work hours and reduced mistakes by allowing staff to find the correct assets quickly while out in the field.
After a career packed with highlights, there is yet another on the horizon.
“I’m working with [Program Lead] Lauren Randall as we navigate a multi-million-dollar decision and the intricacies involved in a path that will change the way Hunter Water manages wastewater,” she says.
“It’s exciting and a direction all of us at Hunter Water can be proud of.”