Where does your water come from? That is the question that drove BFA fifth grade students’ learning for several weeks. It led them to discover the answers about one of the Next Generation Science Standards 5-ESS3-1 which was to obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment. Students visited the Fairfax water system, which was originally intended to only serve the school, with the manager of the system, Randy Devine, who was an informative and fascinating guide. Everyone was surprised to find that there are two very large water storage towers not far from the center of town which can each hold 176,000 gallons of water. The water that goes into these tanks comes from a well that produces 60 gallons of water per minute. Then, it is distributed to the village by gravity flow. There are actually scuba divers that come each year to clean the tanks!
On the other end of the system is the wastewater treatment plant. All the water that flows down from the towers eventually ends up here. There are three ‘ponds’ that the water moves through. In these ponds are bacteria that eat the waste. Eventually, this water is discharged back into the Lamoille River ready to continue through the water system. An interesting fact is that the water that is discharged cannot be any cleaner than the river because if it were it would upset the ecosystem. Mr. Devine monitors all aspects of the water system. He has to run an efficient human waste treatment system within the Wastewater District and provide a safe, reliable source of municipal drinking water within the Water District. He has to know a lot of science and math to do his job.
If Mr. Devine had one wish for the water system it would be for people to stop treating water as if it were a trash can. Dental floss flushed down the toilet can get caught up in the machines at the treatment plant and break them. They cost $10,000.00 dollars to replace! We thank Mr. Devine for maintaining an excellent water system so we can have clean and safe water in school. We are making posters to let people know it is important to treat our water system respectfully.