The Western Monmouth Utilities Authority
Water Environment Award
Rose Fillimon- Lab Supervisor
Western Monmouth Utilities Authority decided to "reach out" to the local educational community during the summer of 1992 through the Water Environment Federation "Adopt-a-School Program". The WEF is a National professional trade association that many of the WMUA's staff joined as members to keep updated on wastewater treatment technology and best management practices that govern the management of wastewater treatment utilities like the WMUA. The program was presented to the local educators. Our service are includes Marlboro and Manalapan-Englishtown Middle Schools, both of which chose to adopt the Program.
The first step was to provide appropriate educational materials to the adopted Middle Schools. The materials were developed by The Water Environment Federation. Each teaching unit includes: an informative and entertaining video that introduces students to the subject through a combination of life actions and animation, a teacher's guide for presenting the lessons, background subject material and in class activities. Also, included is a set of colorful student guides with supplemental information and activities. The subject matter describes the basics of wastewater treatment and water conservation. The cost of this whole project to the Authority was initially about two hundred dollars for purchase of the teaching units and lunches thereafter.
Next, a meeting was held with teachers and supervisors to discuss use of the teaching aids and the development of an eighth grade awards program. It was out of these discussions that the "Western Monmouth Utilities Authority Water Environment Award" was born. The positive reinforcement of a reward is always the best way to stimulate study and achievement.
The faculties of each school select a group of eighth grade students who demonstrate the most interest and excellence in the study of surface water qualify to be finalists for this award. Of course, each school has its own flexibility in the method of selection. Marlboro chooses to hold an essay contest. Manalapan chooses to judge water quality research projects which are part of their science fair. All this is done with constant interaction between the authority and faculty supervisors. Two winners are chosen from each school.
A separate date is set with each school in the spring. On that day, the award winners have the unique experience of participating in a "hands-on" receiving stream field analysis with their science teacher, and authority personnel. The testing trip consists of stops at bridges over the Pine Brook and Matchaponix Brook from Englishtown to Spotswood above and below our plant discharge outfall, and the Duhernal Lake's dam prior to South River. We test for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and take samples for later analysis of other water quality criteria. The purpose of this analysis is to demonstrate the high quality of our treatment plant's effluent and the characteristics of the local water environment. Students are able to "close the loop" of true water recycling. Non point source pollution issues are stressed.
After a lunch at a local shop, the students and teachers are give an in-depth tour of our plant and lab. Our plant is equipped with "State of the Art" technology, including the state's largest reed bed system for converting sludge to usable "Bio-Solids". The students and teaches are amazed at the use of engineering design to simulate the natural process of water renovation. A view of activated sludge under the microscope is always exciting to our guests and stimulates discussion about Secondary and Biological Nitrogen Removal (BNR) treatment. Both the plant staff and our guests have a very enjoyable learning experience.
At their graduation, the Manalapan Eighth Graders are presented award plaques by the W.M.U.A. The Marlboro students are given their awards at an Awards Assembly. All winners also received a $50.00 gift card.
W.M.U.A.'s relationship with local schools has been a very rewarding experience far in excess of our expectations. Additionally, we gain the great benefit of being perceived as an environmental leader in the community. The W.M.U.A. is looking forward to working and growing with our students - the environmental future of our country.