MWRA 2009-2010 Writing Contest Winners

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Jake Kiley
Grade 9, St. Mary’s High School, Lynn


A Fulfilling and Rewarding Occupation

Whether it's when you take a shower every morning, boil water for dinner, or even flush, you always need water. Have you ever stopped to think, "Where does that water come from"? Of course, it comes from reservoirs, and goes to the sewers, but who provides it? The answer is the MWRA, or the Massachusetts Water Resources Authorities. Very few young children grow up with the ambition to work at the place that provides water for people. I'm here to tell you why some people should reconsider.

When the majority of people think of water and sewage commission, they think of people roaming underground in the sewage. This isn't true. The MWRA serves more than 890,000 households and 5,500 businesses from Marblehead to Worcester. Being that large, the MWRA needs more jobs to be done than just the stereotype. Some of these jobs may be interesting as a career to some people. Numerous exciting jobs are featured on the MWRA website alone.

One of the jobs is being a scientist, in either biology or chemistry. You could be an engineer, or work in telecommunications. Maybe you like more of an office setting, and could become an office manager, work in finance or even be a librarian who works on research for the MWRA. Even attorneys and lawyers are needed to work. If you like working outside or in different settings, maybe being a construction worker or safety and security officer is the right path. Some of the most underestimated, yet important jobs you could have at the MWRA, is being a youth educator, or working as an expert of Public Health.

I decided that to learn the most information about the subject, I would have to go strait to the source. I was lucky enough to be able to get an interview with Davis Scribner, Water Distribution Superintendent for Peabody Water and Sewer, which is similar to the MWRA. He told me about his job, his day-to-day experience, and why it is such a rewarding career.

Part of his job is testing various water samples and chemicals. For example, they do fluoride tests daily, and weekly bacterial tests in which they isolate water samples on Petri dishes to make sure bacteria does not form or spread. They also test different types of chlorines, because there have been links between them and cancer. His job is very important because of the size of Peabody, which has a population of over 52,000, classifying it as a Grade 4 distribution (which is the highest level). Part of his day to day job is repairing in distribution sites, and handling complaints about things like water pressure and color.

His entire job, however, includes much more. Any accident or mistake could result in a very negative impact on the city. In his job, he has to go to the site of the problem, whether it is in a distribution plant, or someone's house, find the problem, and then solve it with his team of a minimum of 2 others. His job requires both logic and experience, and using not only your hands, but also your mind. He has to deal with multiple organizations including the police, hospital, fire department, gas companies, and the public.

He told me that he needs to be knowledgeable in an extremely wide selection of topics, although he doesn't need to be an expert in each one. He needs to know: math, common sense, algebra, calculus, technical writing, engineering, biology, record keeping, hydrology, and calculations. He also needs to have all kinds of licenses, know how to operate a dump truck, be knowledgeable on soil and digging, be fairly healthy and quick on your feet, and be able to work as a team. He gets all kinds of calls about things like burst pipes and homes being flooded. He either has to send someone there, or go himself.

He works a lot with pipes, and digging into the ground to find them. Once his team locates it, they do calculations like how much piping to shut down and how long the pipe is, so they can patch it up, or cut it out. Then they have to prevent red rusty water, or dead water, from flowing anywhere. He says that he is never in the same place with the same problem, which makes his job interesting. He also tells me how rewarding it is to prevent disease from spreading through the water, and the sense of accomplishment he gets.

Jobs within the water and sewage industry can take you to all different paths to diverse and interesting careers. They can show you with their wide variety of opportunities, what you want to do in life. After talking to Mr. Scribner, I found out how much of an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling occupation it can be, not simply walking through the sewers like I originally assumed. So if you're a teenager, or even older, and you're looking for a job, don't forget the MWRA.

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