Field Work Friday – The Water Treatment Plant

Kids’ brains are like sponges, and they learn from everything they see all around them.  They’re insatiably curious, too, and want to know ‘why’ everything is and ‘where’ it came from and ‘how’ it got to be that way.
So, to follow up with the questions I received after we studied what grows in a river, we decided to find out how that river gets clean enough for us to drink.
This week we visited the water treatment plant.
One of the first things we learned was that the treatment plant’s original purpose included not just cleaning water, but also to be a bomb shelter. 
The things you learn on a field trip!
We learned that water leaves the reservoir and travels through a large pipe into this cement tank.  
From there, it’s taken to a large tank where it is stirred and has chemicals added to it.  These chemicals are “sticky” and adhere to dirt particles, making them heavy enough to fall to the bottom during the next procedures.
The water flows through pipes, filters, and tanks underneath these concrete walkways.  Because the water is so heavy, it can only be contained in cement – and the pathways over the tanks are necessary for support.
The water flows through this large cement tank, where the dirt particles become heavy and fall to the bottom of the tank.  It takes four hours for the water to be processed from the time it enters the first tank until it is ready to leave the building.
Repairs are made here …
and the valves can be opened here.
All of the valves are controlled here.
The water is tested after each stage of treatment by a chemist to make sure that the chemical levels meet safety standards.
Finally, the sludge water comes out here, to the lagoon.  Eventually the clearer water is skimmed off the top and taken to the waste treatment plant to be cleaned.
Our tour guide was fantastic about answering all of our questions, and we got to climb all over that plant! 

We learned that there’s a lot more to cleaning water than meets the eye – and that it’s a very precise science.
Call the management of your local water treatment plant and ask for a tour.  I’m sure you’ll learn a lot!

Oh – and if you can go out with your friends for lunch afterwards – so much the better.
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