Growing up in Nowa Sol in Poland I loved science experiments and would always get chemistry kits for my birthday and my dad even built me a small lab. I remember aged ten pretending to treat water from the river using a filter process using a sock and sand.
I studied in Szczecin for a Master's degree in Environment Protection, with an organic chemistry specialisation, and then completed a number of water treatment internship programs in Poland and worked in two public labs testing water from rivers and lakes.
Another potential career choice had been acting but my interest in science and the environment won out. Before I moved to Ireland I was working as an extra in some Polish productions, though my big love was theatre - I worked in the theatre for eight years before I moved to Ireland in 2006. My husband works in IT and asked me to join him as he had a job here and at first the plan was to stay only a few months. As it turned out we have built our lives here.
When I arrived in Ireland I worked with water management contractors analysing the physical, chemical and microbiological characteristics of water and in 2014 when I saw an advertisement for my current job I applied straight away.
I am usually be quite shy, and not at all overly confident, but I knew this was the job for me. Something inside me was sure that I would get it and I told the interviewer I really wanted it.
The next day I found out I had the job and that I was to become the first member of a new process optimisation team which now has 23 scientists on it.
Liquidity Treating water and wastewater is quite an expensive process, due to the complex equipment, energy consumption, and chemicals needed.
Irish Water has 750 water treatment plants and 1,062 waste water treatment plans and maintenance is carried out by local authorities and Irish Water working together.
My job is to make sure the sites I am responsible for -Dublin, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire and Wicklow - are run in the most optimal way within their budget and to find process and equipment inefficiencies in order to fix them.
I also make visits to different water and wastewater treatment plants around the country to make sure the processes and equipment are working as best they can and to ensure each site complies with EU rules.
Irish Water enables me to learn about the many new technologies that are constantly evolving to treat water. If you are willing to learn there is a lot of training available.
Conserve and save
Having a water boil notice, or if one of the plants I'm responsible for is non-compliant, this is very distressing. Even when this cannot be prevented due to technical issues or because of the weather conditions, I cannot help but feel responsible for what is happening and to take it personally.
It is challenging, but we work through it and I learn lessons. I have people around me who are always ready to put in the extra effort and time to help me to get the situation under control and to do all we can to get the water boil notices lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.
Some plants were designed and built many years ago and have different technologies. When you combine that with changing weather and water conditions, it makes my job varied and interesting as each plant needs an individual approach.
The best bit is feeling that my work with Irish Water and the Local Authorities makes a difference to people's lives. Every time we improve the quality of the wastewater treatment process means there is a boost for the environment. There is a finite amount of drinkable water, it's a precious gift and we need to conserve it.
During the pandemic when there was a issue with a plant, I would go on site visits and would meet staff outside to discuss the issues. During the lockdown, 80 percent of the time I worked from home with lots of Zoom meetings and I am still doing that of the time.
I am really missing the usual variation, my job is not monotonous and I prefer to be out visiting sites than working remotely. I really enjoy meeting people on site and talking and it is a difficult situation right now, missing that contact with my colleagues.
Nature provides, we deliver
People turn on their taps and don't understand how much work is needed and how complicated it is to treat water and wastewater.
You have to make sure it's safe to drink and that our wastewater complies with EU regulations, so there are strict standards which require a lot of dedication from a great many people to keep everything working properly.
It is also complex making sure that the effluent meets standards so that its disposal does not damagethe environment.
Everyone can do their bit to help conserve water as wasted water is just money and effort down the drain. Pouring fats, oils or grease down the kitchen sink and flushing anything other than the three P's - poo, pee and paper - can cause big problems with plumbing, the wastewater network and our marine environment, so we try hard to educate people.
These days I don't have a lot of free time. I work full-time and when I finish work, I am with my children. When I get the chance I love hiking, cycling and reading.
Once a year we visit Poland as it is important for the kids to learn the language and to realise where they are from, even if they also feel Irish.
Ireland now feels like home to us. We have bought a house here, it is where we are putting down roots and it's where I get to do a job I love and one that keeps me learning.