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MWRA Writing Contest Winners 2005-2006
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

3rd Place Winner, Grades 6-8

Daniel Thornton, Grade 7
Atlantic Middle School, Quincy, MA

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Where Is that Water Coming From?

There are many things I never knew about water. Every time when I use the sink, toilet, or shower I thought "Where is that water coming from?"

One day I asked my dad about where water comes from. He told me about the MWRA.

He said the MWRA stood for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. I was curious to find out more about this agency. I logged on to their web site where I found some interesting facts. I found it fascinating that Massachusetts built one of the first and largest man-made water supplies in the country, and that was only the beginning of the story.

The Quabbin Reservoir is 65 Miles west of Boston. It supplies greater Boston and the Metro-west with water. It is one of the man-made reservoirs largest in the world. It was built in the 1930s. There were earthen dams constructed on each end of the Swift River Valley. That caused the valley to flood and wipe four towns off the map. Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott were eliminated from the map. The Reservoir is so massive, that when it is full it holds 412 billion gallons of water. That is enough to hold a four year water supply. Untreated water is not the only water that goes into the reservoir. It is also filled naturally with snow and rain that eventually flow into the reservoir in little streams. It comes in contact with soil and other sediments that clean it naturally. Most of the land is watershed or protected so it cannot be built on. The water is very high quality. The MWRA tests 1,500 samples each month. They test it from the reservoir to the tap.

In Metro-Boston the water is treated at the John J. Carroll plant at Walnut Hill in Marlborough. It disinfected with ozone gas bubbles from oxygen. Chloramine is added to prevent further contamination as it goes through long pipelines. They also add sodium bicarbonate to adjust pH. This reduces the chance of metal particles from pipes getting into tap water. At the end, fluoride is added to make teeth stronger. From here it leaves the plant through the Metro-West Water Supply Tunnel. Metro-West water is stored in covered tanks and then drawn to distribution to a smaller series of pipes. Meters keep track of how much water is being used in the community.

It is then brought to a smaller series of pipes down to each street entering into each home or business. Water meters are installed to measure how much water is being used so the company can bill them. I never thought that turning on the water in the sink was the end of such a long journey!

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