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MWRA Writing Contest Winners 2005-2006
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

Honorable Mention Winner, Grades 9-12

Leon Spencer , Grade 10
Archbishop Williams High School, Braintree, MA

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MWRA: The Transformation of Massachusetts' Water

The MWRA has done a completely transforming job on the Massachusetts water systems. It changed where and how we get our water, where it goes, how it gets there, and how clean it is. Without the MWRA we wouldn't be able to live like we do now. The MWRA is one of the key organizations that keeps Massachusetts running and keeps its residents healthy. Each job it carries out is very important.

One the most important jobs that the MWRA carries out that it supplies the Massachusetts residents with the water that they need for everyday things like bathing, brushing teeth, cooking, cleaning, and most importantly drinking. For most of Massachusetts the Quabbin Reservoir, 65 miles west of Boston, and the Wachusett Reservoir, 35 miles west of Boston, supply the water. The residents get the water initially
like all people on earth, through precipitation. The precipitation collects in watersheds around the reservoir; the water runs into the reservoir, where it collects in large amount; then it uses the Quabbin Aqueduct and the Wachusett Aqueduct to get to water treatment plant such as the John J Carroll Water Treatment Plant and the Ware Water Treatment Facility; after treatment the water gets to the building that need it via local pipes.
However the water treatment system has become much more efficient thanks to the MWRA.

The treatment of water is one of the most important things that the MWRA does, because it keeps the Massachusetts residents healthy. There are two main treatment plants, for incoming water, that the MWRA oversees. The first in that the plant that treats the water for the Metro West and Metro Boston and it is the John J Carroll Water Treatment Plant in Walnut Hill, Marlborough. The water for the Carroll Water Treatment
Plant comes from the Wachusett Reservoir and gets there via the Wachusett Aqueduct. When the water arrives it is treated through four key steps. First, the water is disinfected using ozone gas bubbles, which is more expansive than chlorine but is less harmful to humans. Next, chloramines are put in to guard against potential contamination of the water while it travels through the pipes. Third, sodium bicarbonate is added to adjust the pH of the water, so there is less of a chance that metal particles, from home plumbing
systems, will dissolve in the water. Last, fluoride is added, which helps to strengthen teeth.

The second plant is the Ware Water Treatment Facility, which treats the water of the residents in the Chicopee Valley area. It is located in Ware, Massachusetts and it gets its water from the Quabbin Reservoir via the Quabbin Aqueduct. The water is treated a little differently at the Ware Water Treatment Facility. The main difference is in the first step. First, instead of adding ozone, the Ware Water Treatment Facility uses chlorine in measured doses; it is less expensive than ozone and in measured doses the probability of
negative affects decreases. Second, chloramines are added for the same reason as the Carroll Water Treatment Plant. Also, chemicals are added to reduce the acidity of the water as well. After treatment the water is sent to the buildings that need it through local pipes. However, after it is used the water doesn't just disappear when it goes down the drain.

When water goes down the drain it goes through a series of station and steps of treatment before it is released into the ocean. However, before the MWRA took charge most of these steps didn't exist and the negative affects, of the lack of efficiency, on Boston Harbor were and still are known throughout the country. Thanks to the new measures taken by the MWRA the harbor is clean again.

When the sewage goes down the drain first is leaves the building using the building's pipes and ends up in local sewers; from there the sewage flows through 228 miles of MWRA interceptor sewers until it reaches the MWRA treatment plant on Deer Island; after treatment it is released into Massachusetts Bay 9.5 miles away from Boston Harbor so it doesn't come back with the tide. Although, the sewage doesn't just pass through the Deer Island Treatment Plant, it goes through an extensive and efficient treatment process to make it environmentally safe.

The first phase would be collecting and pumping, which is when the sewage is pumped through pipes to several headworks where large objects like bricks and plywood are screened out, and then the sewage flows through deep-rock tunnels under the harbor to Deer Island. Phase two is the preliminary treatment, which is when mud and sand settle to the bottom of a grit chamber and are later environmentally disposed of. Then there is the primary treatment, where the remaining sewage flows to the primary settling tanks and up to 60% of the sewage settles out as sludge and water. However, not many toxins are removed in the primary treatment. The last phase is the secondary treatment, which is when oxygen is added to speed up the growth of micro-organisms which consume the wastes and settle to the bottom of the secondary settling tanks. At this point 80-90% of the human waste and solids have been removed and so has a significant amount of toxic chemicals. The sewage is then safe to be released into Massachusetts Bay without damaging the environment.

The MWRA has done all of these things and has made the Boston Harbor, which I personally enjoy, a safer and more comfortable place to be. They are now working to change its reputation to the rest of the country, but the residents and wildlife know and experience the change and that's all that matters.

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