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Spotlight on a Regional YWP: Nick Ruthenberg

Although the traditional focus of the water industry in New South Wales has been Sydney and metropolitan areas, recent trends have this focus shifting to include regional perspectives. It is important that we give a voice to the people who are working to service the needs of the wider NSW state, especially as more people are escaping the city to live regionally. This is a spotlight on Nick Ruthenberg, a Young Water Professional that lives and works in Regional NSW, who works as an engineer in water and sewer for GHD in Orange.


Q: Tell us a little about yourself and the work you do.

I work as a water engineer for GHD based in Orange. My main area of experience is the design of water infrastructure, particularly water distribution and wastewater projects.  I’m very fortunate though because the scope of work available at GHD allows me to work across a range of water infrastructure and water resources projects. No one project is the same and I really enjoy that aspect of my job.


Q: What brought you to work in Orange?

My partner was studying in Orange while I was living in Sydney and travelling a lot for work. We realised we wanted to set ourselves up in a close-knit community like Orange and fortunately, the job at GHD popped up at the perfect time!


Q: What is the best thing about working in a regional area?

The people by far. Orange has a friendly community culture. It’s a very warm and inviting place to live - which is ironic given the weather - and it’s big enough to access all the things you want and need. Living in Orange makes you realise you don’t have to go to big cities to enjoy great food and wine or high-quality services. It’s great to work for a global firm in a regional community – it keeps me motivated and I'm always learning.


Q: What is the most difficult thing about working in a regional area?

Everyone has a different perspective on what makes living in regional communities challenging, but from my perspective the distance from family can be difficult. For people wanting to make the transition from city living to regional towns, you do have to consider where your extended family is located because support networks are very important. If you have a good network of family and friends, sporting groups and social clubs nearby, this can make a world of difference to your lifestyle and happiness.


Q: What moment/achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?

The Australian Water Association coordinated a young water professionals water resilience challenge last year and I was very fortunate to be part of it! The challenge team included nine young water professionals from around NSW and we came together over the course of a weekend to brainstorm and workshop ways to help communities through severe drought and to discuss long term environmental and water preservation challenges and opportunities. It was a great event to be part of and it definitely expanded my thinking.


Q: If you could go back five years, what advice would you give yourself?

Not everything has a technical solution. Sometimes the real hurdle can be a political, stakeholder or communication issue, or it might not be cost effective. Don’t expect all engineering problems to have a technical solution. It may be technically feasible but that doesn’t always mean the problem should be resolved purely by technical means, sometimes other elements at play can be more important. Be pro-active and take those broad perspectives into consideration when planning solutions to technical problems.


Regional YWP’s are making a difference in their local areas and the industry as a whole. If you are a YWP living, working, or studying in a regional area and would like to get involved or share your story, please contact your YWP Committee Regional Representatives:

Trevor Sultana |

Brendan Dagg |