Meet Principal Hydrogeologist – Dr Sarah Groves

Dr Sarah Groves

Dr Sarah Groves is a Principal Hydrogeologist based out of our Sydney office. With over 20 years’ experience in hydrogeochemistry and environmental science, Sarah has worked with government and commercial clients to provide environmental assessments and approvals, planning, environmental management, and compliance.

Sarah’s technical expertise provides her with a unique perspective on large-scale water resources projects, in particular where there is a risk of impact to groundwater. Sarah will work closely with her hydrogeology associates across the east coast of Australia supporting government, local and commercial clients. Sarah has a PhD and Bachelor of Science from the University of New South Wales, and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Geology) from University of Technology, Sydney.

Sarah you are a Principal Hydrogeologist with a background in geochemistry, tell us a bit about this specialised field.

My foundation degree was in geology and throughout this I realised that fundamental processes that shape every part of the earth relies on geochemistry. Geochemistry is an integral part of environmental investigations as it is the link between rocks, minerals, the environment (both natural and anthropogenic) and aquatic ecosystems. By following fundamental principles, we can understand the current environment and assess how changes (big or small) will affect the environment in the future.

I have also had experience in understanding the effects of acid sulfate soil on aquatic environments (in both freshwater and saline environments), conceptualisation of complex groundwater systems, surface and groundwater contamination and transport from anthropogenic activities, managing aquaculture production and grow-out systems, ecotoxicology (heavy metals and rare earth elements), nutrient dynamics in aquatic ecosystems which have led me to some of my most fascinating projects. For example, while working at the CSIRO I was researching how to manipulate nutrients in saline water to grow nutritional algal species to be used as a sustainable fish meal replacement. On another project we looked at solutions to naturally bind phosphate in water to stop eutrophication waterways which is a huge ecological issue in Australia.  As a specialist in this discipline, projects can take you from performing groundwater impact assessments right through to designing water sharing plans for major aquifers. It is diverse and complex, and gets you thinking outside the box at times but this is why I love what I do.

What are the leading drivers you are seeing across projects?

There are multiple trends impacting our clients including climate change, environmental regulations, and of course major infrastructure projects.  You only have to look at the range of projects that Tetra Tech are currently working on in Australia and New Zealand to see the broad application of our team. We are continuously expanding our groundwater team here in Sydney and working with our colleagues in other states which is being driven by our clients as they seek advice for their projects and future requirements.

I was excited to join the Tetra Tech team because many of my colleagues have a deep knowledge of science and apply this understanding in their work for their clients.

What do you think sets Tetra Tech apart from other consulting firms?

I think the key drivers that keep clients coming back to us is simple – it’s our people and their expertise. Clients seek us out when they have really complex problems or are facing a really challenging piece of legislation.  They can come to us and know with confidence we have the people who can help, and not only locally but all of our colleagues around the world whose expertise we can call on.

I also think that science led thinking, which is looking at the future and alternative solutions, again is also driving the demand for sustainable solutions. It is working with colleagues like Dr Casey O’Farrell who is leading the implementation of natural attenuation and biodegradation in site remediation, that is really inspiring.

I love that Tetra Tech Coffey have experts with a deep scientific background but are always looking for alternative solutions.

How is Tetra Tech helping clients address emerging contaminants of concern?

Clients are looking for and value a holistic approach to their project or challenges. Contamination is one area where our experts are leading the way in both a technical and application approach. We have significant expertise in municipal, commercial, and industrial clients and it was one of the key areas of interest for me to join the Tetra Tech Coffey community, particularly in the contaminated land projects where I can really help.

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