Paul Baker

Paul Baker loves the variety in his work. "The great thing is that I'm never stuck in one thing for too long," says Paul of his job as Environment Officer/Water Quality Technician for the Government of Prince Edward Island. Paul's fascination with the environment and clean water started early: "I've always had an interest in the environment, going back to when I was growing up. I used to do a lot of hunting and fishing." He pursued his interest by studying in the environmental technology program at Holland College.

When he graduated, he took a series of contracts before finding permanent employment. Paul has been a permanent employee with the PEI government since 1989 and still looks forward to getting to work every day. Not that it's all easy. Much of Paul's work is related to the testing and certification of household wells. Property owners must produce a clean water certificate for mortgage lenders or purchasers. Paul's office processes requests for more than a 1,000 of these certificates per year and he's often faced with tight deadlines and difficult water problems. To solve the more difficult problems, he often visits a site seven or eight times. What kind of testing does he do? "We check for bacteria.

We look for surface water bacteria, contamination, total coliform. And then we look at e-coli, which is from animal or human waste. In addition, we look at the chemistry of the water and check 16 or 17 parameters-nitrates, the hardness of the water, chloride, sodium, manganese and so on." Paul says his job requires a good understanding of groundwater and how it works. "You need to know how wells work, septic systems are a big part of it. I think good communication skills are important because I deal with numerous people. Some are quite interesting. Others can be up in arms and frustrated with their problems."