Waikato Regional Council recognises young water science talent


Third-year student Cady Burns was recently awarded the Waikato Regional Council Prize in Water Science for 2024

The accolade was bestowed to her during the full council meeting in Hamilton, where council chair Pamela Storey presented the award.

The award recognises a University of Waikato student who demonstrates outstanding ability in water science papers taught in the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Cady enrolled at the University of Waikato in 2022 to study freshwater ecosystems, looking at both quantity and quality. She completes her undergraduate study in July this year and has set her sights on a master’s degree investigating climate impacts around lake systems.

Her research will focus closely on lakes that have affected communities during previous flood events, especially around hydrology and water quality.

She will apply modelling and projection methods to understand the lakes’ dynamics and hopefully shed light on the future impacts of our changing climate.

Cady says water is a lifelong passion of hers from swimming in local lakes as a child to navigating rivers, studying outdoor education, and building a career in white water rafting and kayaking.

Cady has combined her studies with work at The Wastewater Specialists. Last year, she presented her research findings on the toxicity of different portaloo products at the Water New Zealand Conference. Her study evaluated the impact these types of products used in New Zealand have on the biological systems in wastewater treatment plants. She says the experience validated her dedication to water science and provided valuable insights for addressing environmental challenges in the field of wastewater management.

Pamela says that regional councillors frequently engage with the community about their concerns regarding water quality and share their aspirations for the Waikato region’s water quality.

“Water is one of our six strategic priorities. We recognise that clean, healthy water is critical for the environment, our freshwater ecosystems, and for community health and wellbeing. For us, part of that recognition is encouraging the next generation of water scientists to come forward.”

She says Waikato Regional Council encourages more students to take up the challenge of studying water and other environmental science.

“I wish it wasn’t such a well-kept secret, but this organisation has a phenomenal team of environmental scientists who are critical for the work we do. We need more in the future.”

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