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MWRA Writing Contest Winners 2005-2006
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

Honorable Mention Winner, Grades 6-8

Allison Carter , Grade 6
The Winsor School – Boston

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A Watery Life

Welcome to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority water system. You will be floating through the reservoirs, aqueducts, treatment plants and water storage tanks. Currently, we are flowing through a watershed. Watersheds are protected land around the two reservoirs of the MWRA, the Quabbin Reservoir and the Wachusett Reservoir. Watersheds help reduce the risk of contamination of the water. Of all the watersheds in the MWRA system, 85% are forests or wetlands, and 75% are unable to be built on. The water in the reservoirs is often tested, and the watersheds are patrolled daily. Rain or snow will fall on a watershed. The precipitation will turn into a stream, flowing to one of the two reservoirs. We are flowing to the Quabbin Reservoir right now. As we go to the reservoir, we bump against rocks, soil, plants and other materials, which help to clean us, but we also carry some of the material with us into the reservoir. The minerals from these materials are not usually harmful. Since you water drops are newcomers to this system, as we water drops once were, you will have guides. I am Quachusett, and your other guide, Wabbin, will meet up with us at the Wachusett Reservoir~ Up ahead you see the Quabbin Reservoir. Let's enter it.

As we leave the Quabbin Reservoir, the water will be tested. Usually, there are very few contaminants in us here.

Over there, you see the Quabbin Aqueduct. That aqueduct is going to the Ware Water Treatment Facility in Ware, Massachusetts. This plant treats the water going to the Chicopee Valley Area. First, the water is disinfected with chlorine. Then, chloramines are added to help prevent us from most contamination.. The individual communities also treat the water. We're going through the Quabbin Aqueduct, too, but we're not going to the Chicopee Valley Area. We are going to the greater Boston area, about 65 miles away from the Quabbin Reservoir, and 35 miles away from the Wachusett Reservoir.

We'll just be traveling through the aqueduct for a while so just let the current take you to our present destination. Enjoy!

Now we're coming up to the Wachusett Reservoir. Here, we will meet up with Wabbin. This reservoir, as I said previously, is about 35 miles away from the :Boston area. We will spend eight months circling the reservoir and producing electricity. Soon after that, we will be treated.


Eight months later. . .

Hi! I'm Wabbin. We are now going to go through the Cosgrove Aqueduct, but we could also go through the Wachusett Aqueduct. We are going to go to the John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant where we will be treated. This plant is at Walnut Hill in Marlborough. First, we will be disinfected with ozone gas bubbles. Ozone is made from oxygen, and is safe, natural, and a good disinfectant. We will have chloramines added to us to help prevent us from most contamination, just like in the Ware Water Treatment Facility. Continuing through the plant, we will have sodium bicarbonate added to make sure the water doesn't have a too acidic pH, (so that we don't pick up any lead in the pipes in homes,) and then, finally, we will have fluoride added, so all of those giants, "humans," 1 believe they are called, will have healthy, so-called "teeth." After treatment, we will be tested for coliform, which is not usually harmful, but can indicate there being harmful bacteria in the water. 5% of all samples tested in a month are allowed to be positive. If a sample is positive, it will be retested for the bacteria E. coli, which can cause
illness. As you can see now, we are leaving the plant. We are now going through the Metro West
Water Supply Tunnel. This tunnel will take us to the Boston area. Flow along, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Here we are in a water storage tank. We will rest here after our long journey, until somebody decides they need us... Whoops! I feel like we're being pulled out. I guess someone decided they needed us very quickly.

Soon, probably, we will be in the sewer, a whole other long journey.
I guess this human needs to wash her. . . um. . . hands. We are being poured out of a faucet, and right down the drain. Sewer, here we come!

We are now being pushed through this house's pipes to the local sewers. There are 5,400 miles of local sewers that bring wastewater to the "inceptor sewers," which are other sewers, only instead of being local, they are part of the MWRA system. We are not going to have to travel through all of them, as you can see, because we are now pulling up to part of the 228 miles of "inceptor sewers." These sewers are 8 inches to 11 feet in diameter. They go to two MWRA treatment plants. Right now, we are going to the one on Deer Island. Currently, we are in the "Collection and Pumping" stage of the sewer system. Here we are coming up to the first headwork. Headworks screen out the large objects from the water, such as that boot up ahead.
Since we are water, we pass through the headwork into deep-rock tunnels under the Boston Harbor. We will come up at the treatment plant on Deer Island.

Now we begin the "Preliminary Treatment" part of the cleaning of wastewater. The mud and sand will sink to the bottom of a grit chamber. Later, they will be taken to a landfill, where they will experience environmentally safe disposal.

We will now move on to the "Primary Treatment" stage. Here, we will enter the primary settling tanks. 60% of the solids and waste settle here, separating into sludge and water. Also, a few toxic chemicals are removed here, but not very many.

On to "Secondary Treatment" Here, oxygen is put in the wastewater, so that microscopic organisms will consume waste and then ~settle to the bottoms of the secondary settling tanks. During Secondary Treatment, 80% to 90% of waste and other solids are removed. Many of the toxic chemicals will also be gone. After this, the wastewater and sludge are separated. Maybe after we finish our journey, I will have time to tell you The Story a/the Sludge.

Right now, we are being disinfected. We are then going to be sent out to Massachusetts Bay. The wastewater, called effluent, is sent out over a 9.5 mile "outfall tunnel," which is drilled through solid rock over 250 feet below the floor of the ocean. For the last 1 Y4 of a mile, there are 55 points where the water is released (called diffusers.)

Since we are now in the Atlantic Ocean, not having much to do, I guess I have a little time for that story.

This is The Story a/the Sludge. The sludge is processed in "sludge digesters," which mixes it and heats it, the latter action reducing the amount of sludge and killing any illness-causing bacteria. Then the sludge is sent to a "pelletizing plant" in Quincy. Here, any water left in the sludge is taken out. The sludge is dried by heat and made into fertilizer pellets for agriculture, forestry or land reclamation.

Trips are only guided once. We, Quachusett and I, have to leave now. Sorry. Don't worry, you'll be able to go through the system again, and maybe some day be guides yourself. Good-bye. Enjoy your watery life.


Sources: - website

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