“I am interested in understanding what the better solutions are and how I can make a difference”, Ruth Barden.
What is your job about?
I am the Head of Environment and Catchment Strategy at Wessex Water.
Wessex Water is a water and sewage company for this part of South-West of England. We have got 2.7 million customers on the sewage side and 1.3 million on the drinking water side.
My role covers a couple of different functions but primarily a lot of my work is around environmental investigations. This means understanding the impacts which Wessex Water has on the environment throughout our day-to-day operations but also understanding whether there is a change in environmental legislation that we need to respond to, understanding what is the best way for us to do that, what is the more sustainable way to deliver the greatest environmental benefits but at the lowest cost for our customers because obviously it is all reflected in their bills. So, that is quite a large part of my work. Also I deal with the biodiversity function within my area and also our catchment coordinators.
What issues do you address?
So a lot of our work at the moment is very much about understanding our own assets, our own conditions, our own impact and how we work with the environment but also understanding how we need to work with others to give us better solutions for the environment and for our customers. So we realized we cannot do this alone, we need to work with others and we need to work with our customers as well in terms of providing them with an understanding and an education of how they can have an impact, of how they might be unknowingly driving their bills up.
What moved you to take action?
For me personally, most of my involvement is around environmental investigation so I guess the motivation for that is that I am really interested in understanding what the better solutions are, how I can make a difference and how we can do that as a company, how we can try different innovations and new technologies to deliver better environmental solutions.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
I did not have to overcome major obstacles. I think that I have been quite lucky that Wessex Water is a very good company with which I share similar values including the will to move forward, change and deliver better solutions. The company has enabled me to do that and if I come up with new ideas or, working with Universities if they have come up with new ideas, the company has been very keen to actually try them.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
I must say we have not encountered hard times. I think that because we have always been a very good company and forward thinking company with some very strong values, we have always got a lot of support externally as well.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I have always been interested in water and the environment from a very young age. It is something that I have always been interested in throughout my life and my academic and professional career.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
Between 9 and 10.