Grade 6, Winsor School, Boston
A World Without MWRA
I was walking home when I saw my neighbor, Bobby, outside. I had just come back from my first day working at the MWRA. I am a wastewater treatment plant operator, which means I start and stop pumps and replace and repair equipment. I came up to him and said, "Today was the first day at my new job at the MWRA."
Bobby wasn't impressed. "I think those jobs are pretty useless. What's the point of having all of your sewage cleaned? Sewage doesn't have to be cleaned before it goes into the harbor. I mean, imagine a world without the MWRA. It wouldn't make a difference to our lives or the environment."
I looked at him in disbelief. "Are you kidding? But actually, you brought up a good point. Lets imagine a world without MWRA. What do you think would happen to Boston Harbor if the sewage pipes went right into the ocean?"
"Come on. The ocean is huge. It would take hundreds of years for the sewage to actually be noticeable in the water."
"Actually," I replied, "three hundred sixty million gallons-about 7 million bathtubs--of wastewater are treated every day at the MWRA. That's about ... 130 billion per year.
Imagine 130 billion gallons of wastewater being poured into the harbor every year. Imagine even one day without the wastewater system. Even though the harbor is pretty big, the difference in the water condition would get noticed pretty quickly. If the pipes flowed right into the harbor, we could never swim at the beaches. Instead of the beautiful Boston Harbor as we know it, it would be brown, murky, and full of sewage and trash. There would be no fishing either. Do you think fish could survive in waters full of sewage?"
"I guess not," Bobby said hesitantly.
"The wastewater system is also very important in our daily lives. Think of how many times you see water go down the drain. Where do you think it all goes?" Without letting Bobby answer, 1 went on. "When the MWRA collects our wastewater, all of the trash, mud, and sand are removed. Then, the solids in the wastewater are separated. Lastly, the water is disinfected of chemicals and it flows into the harbor. The MWRA makes it possible for sewage to turn into almost drinkable water. That's not pointless at all.
"You said we should imagine a world without the MWRA. Do you still think our lives would be exactly the same?"
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