Writing Contest Winners 2016-2017

Honorable Mention, Grades 6-8

Eric C. Ferguson
Grade 6, McCall Middle School, Winchester
Megan Capobianco, Teacher

Combined Sewer Overflow

Kevin loved the river. He loved how it ran through his backyard. He loved swimming and playing in it. He loved everything about it. It was Saturday in Medford Massachusetts and today was the day he would test out his new kayak that he got for his 10th birthday two weeks ago. Kevin carried his new, one person kayak down the small hill and launched it into the Mystic River. He hopped on it and smiled to himself; now he could explore every part of the river in his new kayak! But something was wrong. Kevin sniffed the air and instantly covered his nose. He hadn't even noticed! There was a horrid smell coming from the water. Kevin pulled his boat out of the water.

One day earlier, Kevin sat on his couch with his mom and dad watching the weather." We are expecting huge rainstorms overnight. In some places 2 inches!" said one weatherman. "That's right Fred, the city of Boston is under a flood warning and..." Kevin's mother shut off the TV. "Kevin, I think it's time to go to bed. It is past your bedtime" Kevin's mother said. "But mom, it's not even a school night!" Kevin protested. Kevin's dad gave him the look and Kevin decided he should probably just do what his mom told him to. "Ok guys, you win. Goodnight mom! Goodnight dad!" Kevin said. "Goodnight!" said Kevin's parents. Kevin went upstairs. Kevin's mom looked worried." I hope we don't flood again," she said. "Me too," said Kevin's dad.

"Hey Chuck!" said Ann, the receptionist at the MWRA in her thick Boston accent. "What is it?" Chuck asked." I just got a call from a Medford resident. He says there is a funky smell in the wahtah in the Mystic Rivah." she said. "Maybe you could check it out?" "Umm, sure I'll go over there and see what's going on. Thanks!" said Chuck. "No Prahblem," said Ann. Chuck grabbed his toolbox and headed out. He got in his van and started the engine. I wonder what could have happened he thought to himself.

When Chuck got to the river he pulled out his toolbox. He did a quick field test and the test showed that the water was not 100 percent clean. To be sure he got a sample of the water and dropped it off at the lab when he got back to Deer Island. He couldn't be sure but he thought that this could be caused by a Combined Sewer Overflow. A CSO is when the rainwater system floods and the rainwater pipe flow and the sewage pipe flow mix and some sewage gets dumped into the rivers instead of just rainwater. But he was not sure because the people in the labs were not done testing.

The next day when Chuck got back to work he was surprised to find out that, yes there was a Combined Sewer Overflow. That meant that the water was unsafe to swim in or boat on because there was waste in the river that could make people sick. All they could do is wait a few days to see if the waste gets washed out of the river and the Boston harbor. Chuck was glad he helped out. If it wasn't for that one caller they couldn't have warned anyone in time. Kevin was interested in this whole water thing. Why did it smell so bad? So he went online and looked at the MWRA website. He looked at the top right corner of the webpage and saw that there was a CSO warning in his area. Was this why the water smelled so bad? What was a CSO? He looked for more information about CSOs on the website and came to a page. He looked and found out that a CSO was an overflow of sewage in rivers caused by pipe overflows.

Did that huge rainstorm that just happened two days ago cause an overflow? If that was true, oh shoot! Kevin had just been kayaking in a river filled with waste! Ugh, that's why it smelled so bad! A month later after the CSO, Kevin and his friends were kayaking on the Mystic River. This time he checked the website before he went kayaking in case there was another overflow warning. Kevin had a great day with his friends on the river. After they said goodbye and went home Kevin noticed a letter at his front door. It was from the MWRA. He quickly opened it. It was a thank you note. It said that Kevin was the first caller on that Saturday and that things could have been much worse if he didn't call! Wow! That was cool! It was from a guy who works at the MWRA named Chuck Green. Kevin didn't know who this Chuck Green was but he seemed like a nice guy. But Kevin was happy that he had done something big to protect the river he loved.

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