Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Field trip to the water intake plant

CGEE Student Voice
Water & Watersheds
by Jenni Abere

Last week, my environmental studies class went on a field trip to the water intake plant, near Lake McCarrons in Roseville. Last year, we toured the wastewater treatment plant so it was interesting to see the opposite end of the spectrum. The plant serves all of Saint Paul and a few surrounding cities including Roseville.

I expected that the water intake plant would be close to the river, but it's actually several miles away. Water is pumped from upstream of the Twin Cities and then carried by pipes into several lakes and then to the plant. The path is designed in this way so that after the water is pumped out of the river, it flows downhill the whole way to the intake plant. Genius!

A scale model of Saint Paul's water.

The water purification process is relatively simple; our water is not very polluted. The only wastewater treatment plant upstream of the Twin Cities is in Saint Cloud. But there is a lot of solid organic matter in the water. It is settled out in large pools, and the byproduct is applied to farm fields as fertilizer. A lot of the damp chalky stuff is shipped off every day: 8-12 semi-trucks full.

A piece of organic sludge on its way to a farm field.

The water is filtered and then sanitized with chlorine and chloramines. And that's about it.

And then there's this room:

I'm not sure what the purpose of this terrifying concrete dome is, but it struck the fear of God into me. It was cold and humid and deafeningly loud from water crashing down around the sides of the tank like some kind of dystopian infinity pool.

My photo doesn't really do it justice. It changed me.

It would also be a really cool location to film a movie. Maybe a future Star Wars installment.

Anyway, it was great to learn in detail where the water I drink and use every day comes from.

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