Writing Contest Winners 2016-2017
First Place Winner, Grades 3-5
Grade 4, Belmont Day School, Belmont
Ms. Mary Norman, Teacher
A Special Report From The Turtle Channel:
How The Weather Affects The MWRA
"Hi, I'm Tappy Turtle. I'm a water correspondent for the Turtle Channel. Question of the day: do you know how different kinds of weather impact the MWRA, the water system and our drinking water? On today's show I'll be discussing the topic with the help of my friend Quabbin Turtle. Quabbin Turtle doesn't know much about the MWRA, so she'll be asking questions that I'll be answering! We'll start with—
QUABBIN TURTLE: "How does snow impact the MWRA?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "When rain and snow fall beside the MWRA reservoirs, they melt into streams that flow into the body of water next to it and become the source of our drinking water. On their way towards the reservoir, they collide with rocks and plant matter in their path."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "What does this do?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "This process helps to clean up the water because the material acts like a filter." QUABBIN TURTLE: "And that makes the water drinkable?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Not exactly. Although the water has been cleaned up through this natural filtration process, it can still carry contaminations that can make you sick."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Then what can we do?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "That's why the MWRA has drinking water treatment stations that further clean the water using special settling tanks and bacteria-killing treatments. When it comes out, it's drinkable! The water quality is regulated and the MWRA always tries to go above and beyond regulations, so we can be sure that our water is safe, clean and tastes really good."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Wow, so that's why I don't get sick drinking water straight out of my kitchen tap." "Yeah, that's why. Next we'll be discussing—"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Wind doesn't have anything to do with water, so how can it have any impact on the MWRA?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Well, you know how the MWRA has a bunch of machines and stuff for cleansing the water?"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Yeah, and..."
TAPPY TURTLE: "And they need tons of electricity for it, right?"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Yeah, I guess?
TAPPY TURTLE: "And you remember that show we had on alternate energy and how it is better for the environment?"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Yeah, but what does that have to do with water?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Well, the MWRA uses wind turbines, like the ones in Charlestown and around the Deer Island Treatment Plant, as a source for renewable energy. These wind turbines help the MWRA to be energy self-sufficient and reduces impact on the environment."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "That's really cool to take advantage of what the weather brings." "Speaking of the weather, looks like it just started to pour outside. Perfect timing for what's up next—"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Rain brings water to us, so it must be good for the MWRA, right?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Yes and no. Rain is a source of drinking water, but it can also cause problems. You remember those storm drains in the streets, right?"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Well, yeah, but-"
TAPPY TURTLE: "And you know about the sewer system, right?"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Yeah, but-"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Did you know that older sewer systems combine water and sewage in one pipe?" QUABBIN TURTLE: "WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT SEWAGE WHEN I ASKED YOU ABOUT RAIN!?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Quabbin Turtle, I was just about to get there but somebody interrupted. Now if you'll stop being so snappy, I can get to the point."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Well then, please continue."
TAPPY TURTLE: "When there is a rainstorm, large amounts of water flow from the streets and off the lawns into the storm drains. Older sewer systems combine these runoffs with the sewage already in the system."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Why is that a problem?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "During these storms, pipes that mix rainwater with waste can cause CSOs."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Chief Scientific Officers?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "No! Not THAT CSO, combined sewer overflows!"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Ohhh...what are combined sewer overflows?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "When the sewer system overflows, it relieves the overflow by discharging sewage-mixed water into the nearest water source."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Eeeeeeew! Wouldn't that pollute the water?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Of course! That is why the MWRA has begun the CSO Control Plan. As of 2015, discharges from 39 CSOs have been completely eliminated or virtually eliminated, and 93% of the remaining CSO flows receive treatment. Annual CSO volume has been reduced by 2.8 billion gallons a year. They are doing everything to protect us from the BIG BAD CSOs!
Dun-dun-duh (sound effect)!!!"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Last but not least, SUNLIGHT!"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Sunlight? Like we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen? But what does that have to do with the MWRA?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Remember earlier we talked about the MWRA's water treatment stations?"
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Yes?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Well, sunlight's ultraviolet (UV) rays help the MWRA clean the water. UV light is amazing at killing bacteria. It can kill many of the difficult-to-kill germs that may be lurking in our drinking water. In fact, the MWRA began a UV facility in 2014 in the John Carroll treatment plant, so that they can improve our drinking water quality without using too many chemicals."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "That's really cool!"
TAPPY TURTLE: "It is, but too much sun is a bad thing."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "Too much sun can cause droughts, right?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "CORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRECT! And droughts are really bad because they could impact our drinking water supply."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "What does the MWRA do to prepare for droughts?"
TAPPY TURTLE: "First of all, the sizes of the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs are so big that even if there were a period of drought, there would not be much of an impact. The MWRA also checks the reservoirs' water levels all the time, and they have been fixing leaky pipes and putting water conservation programs in place to help reduce water consumption."
QUABBIN TURTLE: "That makes me feel sooooo much better!"
TAPPY TURTLE: "Yes, our water is safe and clean and plentiful, thanks to the MWRA." "Time sure flies when you are having fun! That's all the time we have for this special report. Turtle listeners, did you learn something from our show today? I sure hope you did! Until next time, enjoy your water!"
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