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MWRA Writing Contest Winners 2005-2006
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

2nd Place Winner, Grades 6-8

Thomas Francis Pecoraro, Jr., Grade 7
Atlantic Middle School, Quincy, MA

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Matt the Water Molecule

There once was a water molecule named Matt. He was happy at his home, which was the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. This particular reservoir is located about 65 miles west of the historic city of Boston. He was troubled though because his friends were mysteriously disappearing. He bravely ventured out of his normal hang out to see if he could find his missing friends.

As he went about he spotted his friends Wilson, Rachael, and Adam. "Boy, am I glad to see you guys", said Matt. He told them how much he missed them. His three friends assured Matt that they were okay and they were happy to see him too. All of the sudden, all of them experienced what sounded like an earthquake. The water around them and all the other molecules started to move about quickly. They saw millions and millions of bubbles. Matt, Wilson, Rachael and Adam were scared but then they noticed a molecule they didn't know. They noticed him because he seemed to be very calm. He came up to them and introduced himself. His name was Skip. He told them that he had lived in the reservoir for a long time.

"Relax", he told them, "this is somewhat of an adventure or an amusement ride." The four friends' found Skip's voice soothing and as soon as they calmed down they started to enjoy the movement of the water and their surroundings. Everything became still after that and they all felt so peaceful. This is when Skip explained about their environment and their destiny.

Skip told them that the reservoir they lived in is a wonderful place and that it is full of life. It is a place so special that it actually gives life to other living things. A reservoir is similar to a lake in that it holds large water supplies. The water, such as rain and snow fall into watersheds which turn to streams that flow into the reservoirs. Here the water accumulates. Skip explained that the Quabbin Reservoir is protected by human beings and that the area is surrounded by forest and wetlands. "Our home is a beautiful place", he told them. This reservoir is so clean and well protected that humans consider the water to be of very high quality. Humans drink this water in order to live long and healthy lives. They also use the water to clean things and to help other living things such as plants and animals stay alive and beautiful.

Matt, Wilson, Rachael, and Adam were fascinated. The way Skip explained it made them feel like they were a part of something magical. Skip explained that the water enters the Wachusett Reservoir at Oakdale and circulates there for eight months. From there it goes to Clinton. The humans have a way of making what they call electric power as the water leaves the reservoir. "Electric power is like a special magic", said Skip, "it helps humans create energy." With this energy humans can create many things they need to live and to be comfortable. He also told them about a special group of humans who are a part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) who test over "1,500 water samples per month"* to make sure that the water is clean and safe for humans.

Skip really got his new friends' attention when he told them about the testing so they asked him what happens to the water after it got tested. He told them that the water from the reservoir goes through Cosgrove or Wachusett Aqueduct and enters a place called the John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant at Walnut Hill. Here the water is treated with special chemicals. "Those bubbles you were experiencing," he said, "were actually part of the treatment".

"Really", said Matt, "I know that we molecules are always moving about but I didn't realize that we were now in a treatment plant."

"That's right", said Skip, "we are in the treatment plant." Skip told them that the water was being disinfected with ozone gas bubbles. Suddenly, all the molecules and everything around them started to feel a tingling sensation. It made them all smile and laugh. "This is a process the humans call chlorination", said Skip. He explained that chlorine was a special chemical that was added to protect water from becoming contaminated as it travels through pipelines. The pipelines carry the water to different towns and cities and eventually to human homes. Sodium bicarbonate is added to adjust the ph which is naturally found in water. This process helps prevent metal particles from pipes to dissolve into the humans' drinking water. "Humans also add fluoride to water to help them maintain healthy teeth", said Skip. Again, the molecules felt a sudden rush and Skip told them that they were off again and were leaving the treatment plant. The name of the tunnel that carried the water out was the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel.

Skip had been right about the adventure. The molecules were all happy as they left the tunnel and they felt clean, refreshed and full of energy. They learned that from the tunnel they would be stored in covered tanks. From there, their journey would continue to large water mains and smaller pipes. They were amazed that humans could keep track or log the amount of water that went into each town by using a meter. Once the water got to each town or city, local pipes located in the street would carry the water into the pipes
located in the humans' buildings and homes. The water would arrive clean and safe for human use. Humans gather water from their pipes through faucets.

Now the four friends knew what Skip knew and were going to pass it on to others. The MWRA is helping 2.2 million people* and 5,500 industrial users (1) get clean, high quality water from the Quabbin and Wachusett Watersheds and Reservoirs. They all felt happy knowing that part of their journey was to help humans and other living things survive. They knew that if the humans could stay healthy, then the humans could continue to protect the reservoir and other water sources.

(1) Source: Massachusetts Water Resources Authority web site.

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