News | 16 May 2024
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Get to know sludge expert Scott Cook

Technical specialist Scott Cook has successfully delivered two sludge minimisation facilities and developed a further three facilities in his home country of Wales. In 2021, he and his family made the move to Aotearoa to help Wellington City Council establish its own sludge minimisation facility – the first in the city.

A man wearing a blue shirt smiling at a table.

When he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in 2001, Scott kicked off his career with a job replacing blast furnaces in the steel industry in South Wales. From there, he worked within a company that built aluminium mills, before he eventually landed in a utilities engineering surveyor role, which he says sparked his love for the industry. 

“I began surveying Welsh Water’s drinking water and wastewater assets to identify what they needed to focus their 10-year infrastructure plans and costs on. I then moved into capital projects, delivering Welsh Water’s first advanced sludge digestion facility, delivering projects with new technologies as per what we are building now in the Wellington sludge facility.

“In the 20 plus years of my career, my other roles in steel, nuclear and manufacturing have been interesting, but I always end up coming back to major projects for wastewater - it has all aspects of engineering, science and technology included.”

Since the first sludge facility opened in 2010, a further four facilities were opened in Wales over the next 11 years. Scott’s work on the first one gave him the experience he needed to deliver, upgrade, and support the construction and operation of the other facilities from 2017 to 2021. 

In 2020, Scott was given the opportunity to make the move to New Zealand to pursue his career in wastewater. Ten days before he was meant to fly out, the border closed due to COVID-19 and he had to stay behind in Wales. In hindsight, this roadblock eventually ended up helping him find his perfect role at the Council, he explains.

“We had sold everything to leave so we ended up living in a caravan temporarily! It took a while, but I managed to go through the quarantine process to begin work with Beca as a Project Management Senior Associate on the SMF project. 

“This then led me to getting the role at Wellington City Council as the Technical Director for the sludge facility.” 

In his role, Scott is leading the Council’s technical design, commissioning, and operations for the facility, as well as providing engineering and programme advice to the project team.

Working on the first ever sludge facility in Wellington comes with many challenges, but Scott is confident that once it’s up and running, everyone will see how beneficial this type of facility and technology is. 

“In Wales, once we got one facility, we ended up installing more and more. In my previous workplaces, these facilities end up becoming educational centres where you can bring school kids in for a day and show them the systems, you have a chance to educate them and the community. We can bring people on the journey with us.

“I love life in New Zealand and this move has worked out brilliantly for me. Getting to work on Wellington’s first sludge facility is such an exciting opportunity".

Find out more about the sludge minimisation facility on our website.