10 February 2022

Why I work in water: Lauren Randall

Hunter Water is exploring new technologies and considering emerging opportunities to meet the challenges of population growth in the region and increase the recovery of precious resources.

A key focus has been on the recovery of biosolids – a solid by-product from the sewage treatment process – and reducing our carbon emissions by increasing the amount of renewable energy we generate during sewage treatment.

Each year, Hunter Water recovers about 1,600 truckloads of biosolids for reuse as a soil conditioner in agriculture and mine site rehabilitation.

Program Lead Sustainable Wastewater, Lauren Randall, says reusing biosolids on land returns valuable nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil.

“These nutrients are essential for plant growth,” she says.

“Our community’s expectations and aspirations are changing over time. What was seen as waste in the past is increasingly being seen as an opportunity for resource recovery and beneficial reuse.
Lauren Randall, Program Lead Sustainable Wastewater

“We return the equivalent of 12 truckloads of nitrogen and eight truckloads of phosphorus to soils in our region each year.

“Applying biosolids to land also improves the soil structure and water retention properties.

“It’s an exciting space to work in and I know I’m making a real difference to the environment and my community.”

Lauren joined Hunter Water in November 2000 as part of the University of Newcastle’s Industry Scholarship Scheme to get some real-world experience and kickstart her career in the water industry.

More than two decades later, she hasn’t looked back.

In 2021, her hard work and dedication was acknowledged during the Values Awards – an annual event that recognises people within the organisation who exhibit the essence of its values – ‘Leading’, ‘Learning’, ‘Inclusion’, ‘Wellbeing’, and ‘Trust’.

Lauren says being nominated for the ‘Learning’ award reflects her commitment to seeking opportunities to better herself through collaborating, innovating, and welcoming feedback.

“Knowing I was nominated by several of my peers and receiving an overwhelming number of messages of support following the announcement really reinforced and strengthened this commitment to learning and sharing knowledge,” she says

“I felt very humbled to receive this recognition when I work alongside so many dedicated and talented people doing great things for the community and environment every day, both at work and in their own time.”

Apart from the Values Awards, Lauren says other highlights from her time at Hunter Water include presenting at industry conferences, working with the Australian and New Zealand Biosolids Partnership (ANZBP) Advisory Committee since 2020, and partnering with Port Stephens Koalas to plant hundreds of feed trees for koalas in care.