MWRA Writing Contest Winners 2004 - 2005
First Place, Grades 6-8
Ms. DeRosa, teacher
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The greatest contributing factor to the revitalization of Boston Harbor is Massachusetts' major effort to fight pollution. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority ("MWRA") has organized the "Boston Harbor Clean-up," which is an impressive $3.8 billion program. The paramount element of the project is the Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant designed to combat waste that would otherwise be dumped in the harbor from metropolitan Boston's sewer systems.
Deer Island has served many roles over the centuries and even used to be an actual island before it was connected to the mainland by a hurricane in 1938. Now, rather than rehabilitating criminals, the island is serving to rehabilitate Boston Harbor by treating sewage from communities in and around Boston. Amazingly enough, the sewage treatment plant should be considered one of the island's most dignified roles, even though tons of sewage are funneled to the island every day. The island has seen much worse than sewage, such as death and sickness when it was used to quarantine Irish immigrants around 1850.
The purpose of the Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant is to cleanse wastewater from 43 communities around Boston. Pollutants are removed from the wastewater through a series of phases. After the water is treated, it can be released into the Atlantic Ocean and is considered safe for the marine environment with both federal and state standards.
The treatment of the wastewater is a complex operation. The sewage is pumped from towns to the plant through four underground tunnels. There are three main pump stations that lift the sewage 150 feet from the tunnels to the treatment center. The wastewater then undergoes a few stages of treatment to sift out solid waste, scum and sludge. The last phase is to kill the bacteria. Then the treated water is ready to be discharged at a rapid rate miles into the ocean. The MWRA even makes sure that this entire treatment procedure is subject to odor control, an invaluable service that is beneficial to visitors and nearby residents.
Improvements in the harbor's cleanliness are proven by the influx of wildlife that now inhabits the harbor. Deer Island has not only provided a sewage treatment plant to help clean Boston Harbor, but a beautiful park also sits on the other one-third of the island for visitors to enjoy by walking, jogging, sight-seeing, picnicking, and fishing. Although Boston Harbor is still not considered the world's cleanest harbor, MWRA has taken gigantic steps in the battle against the harbor's pollution by their takeover of Deer Island.