Environmental Engineering

Dr Mike Hickford (left), his son Blake and doctoral researcher Shane Orchard on the banks of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River.

What is Environmental Engineering?

Environmental engineering is applying engineering principles and experience to the solution of problems of environmental quality.

Environmental engineers design and set up systems to provide clean drinking water and to treat wastewater, solid wastes, hazardous wastes and air pollutants adequately. Detailed study of the environmental impacts of pollutants and ways to reduce these, both at source, and with treatment, is typical. Increasingly, environmental engineers explore sustainable systems and work with professionals across a wide range of disciplines including sociology, ecology, geology and management science.

Environmental engineers need knowledge in physics, mathematics, chemistry and microbiology, with good communications skills and an interest in providing practical solutions in environmental quality. Environmental engineers work as professional consulting engineers, in local government and industry and in research and development.

We also interact closely with staff from Chemical and Process Engineering, Natural Resources Engineering, Geography and Facilities Management.

Interests in the environmental engineering group include:

  • Wastewater treatment
  • Solid waste
  • Contaminant transport

Recent and current research projects include:

  • Use of naturally-occurring volatile fatty acids for pesticide removal during the denitrification process
  • Groundwater extraction and disposal modelling for coal-seam gas recovery
  • Odour production from kerbside collected domestic kitchen organics
  • Physical and mathematical modelling of the composting process
  • Use of white-rot fungi in pentacholorophenol (PCP) remediation
  • Slow sand filters for rural drinking water treatment

Our well-equipped modern laboratory occupies a floor area of 235 m2 and contains all the basic environmental chemistry analytical facilities, plus two temperature controlled rooms, and a number of laboratory-scale wastewater treatment reactors.

Major equipment items include:

  • Total organic carbon analyser, with autosampler
  • Ion analyser, with heater block and autosampler
  • Gas chromatograph, with autosampler
  • Respirometric BOD apparatus
  • COD reactor (semi-micro)
  • Dissolved Oxygen meters
  • Jar test apparatus
  • Stainless steel reactor vessels (7; capacity 30  L each)

The following staff members are involved in Environmental Engineering.


  • Aude Thierry
  • Peter McGuigan

For advice on Environmental Engineering

Mark Milke

Civil & Natural Resources Engineering E440
Internal Phone: 92154

David Wareham

Civil & Natural Resources Engineering Rm E414
Internal Phone: 95017

Find research groups

Search our Research database

News, events and seminars