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Field Trip! Water, sewage and flowers

This was a very busy day. I went to five science-related places/events today (and one yesterday).

The first three, this morning, were part of an education school trip with my daughter’s class and her science teacher.

First we visited the OWASA Water Treatment Plant which provides tap water for about 80,000 people in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, NC, followed by a tour of their Wastewater Treatment Plant. Last time I visited a water treatment plant was about 30 years ago, in Belgrade (which has 2 million people using the water), so it was exciting to see how technology has evolved over the years – with greater quality control, much greater energy efficiency and, most importantly, with much more environmentally friendly impact.

Everything is recycled – a byproduct of one part of the process (e.g., methane) becomes a fuel for another part, etc. Water gets recycled within the plant, solid particles are sterilized and given away as fertilizer, the cleaned wastewater is sterilized and ‘reclaimed water’ which does not meet the tap water standards is given away for irrigation, heating and other uses. Even the end-product of wastewater cleaning gets additional stuff done to it – sterilization by UV light and oxygenation before it is dumped into a creek, in order to help the wildlife living in it.

Interesting stuff sometimes flows down the sewer pipes. The large inorganic objects get caught first and our tour-guide just the other day discovered a rubber duckie! No alligators.

Then we went to The North Carolina Botanical Garden for a picnic lunch. It’s been a long time since I last visited and it was great to see how much they added over the years. Though late fall, there was plenty to see and a number of plants were in full bloom. Will have to come back soon with the whole family.

About the other two events, afternoon fare, you’ll have to wait for my reports tomorrow.