October 23, 2013
Local kids took in the sights and smells of the wastewater treatment plant as part of an unusual field trip, but some hope it will open their eyes -- and nostrils -- to how important cleaning the area water can be.
"It was a little bit gross because the water was a little yucky but it was also kind of cool," said Tandem Friends School seventh-grader Miriam Skadron.
The group from Tandem was just one of many planning trips to the Rivanna Wastewater Treatment Plant.
"We want them to understand the role that wastewater treatment plays in keeping our rivers healthy and clean," said Robbi Savage of the Rivanna Conservation Society.
October is the month Congress signed the Clean Water Act some 41 years ago. The conservation society does a number of education and outreach programs for local kids each year throughout the month.
"It helps you get a feel for it, know what actually happens, like not just, 'Oh, it goes to the sewer plant and then it leaves," Tandem seventh-grader William Vavrik said.
The tour may have taken a toll on their nostrils, but the conservation society said they believe it's important for kids to know that when they flush the toilet, things don't disappear.
"I found it interesting that the bacteria use the waste as food," Miriam said.
The Clean Water Act hasn't been updated since 1987, so the conservation society wants kids to get involved with science to make sure the law reflects current conditions.
"We need our next generation to say that's not acceptable," Savage said. "The environment has changed tremendously. The technology has changed, and we need to update that law. We need kids that are smart and understand all these different processes."
Coming up later this month, the conservation society will shoot a documentary to showcase their outreach efforts with the goal of getting more people involved with protecting local rivers.