On Jan 25, 2019, Boy and Girl Scouts toured Fairfax County’s Noman M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control Plant, learned how wastewater is cleaned, and earned some badges.
The Scouts walked through the tunnels under the treatment plant where they asked questions about how wastewater travels from their homes to the plant. They saw the primary and secondary treatment processes, talked to chemists in the lab, and looked at microorganisms under a microscope. A wastewater management expert answered their questions about energy and water conservation. The information provided helped the Boy Scouts, who are learning about energy use, and also helped the Girl Scouts, who are learning about water conservation as part of their Wonders of Water (WOW) badges.
The tour of the plant was organized by the Wastewater Education and Outreach Group (WEOG) and eight Centreville High School students who volunteered to help.
“The experience for the Scouts with WEOG would not have been possible without the high school volunteers,” said Melissa Atwood, a member of WEOG. “Usually, we educate middle and high school students through our Sewer Science laboratory classes, but now we are able to connect with younger students.”
The tour provided WEOG an opportunity to teach the value of clean water to children in grades 2 through 5. “They were eager to learn more about where the wastewater goes and how it is cleaned,” Atwood said.
The Centreville HS volunteers had participated in the Sewer Science lab previously, and before the tour, they reviewed the treatment process with plant staff and learned about safety protocols. During the tour the volunteers helped maintain safety and answered questions about the plant and the importance of keeping water clean. Based on this volunteer activity, the Centreville students plan to create a poster about what they learned, an activity that will further strengthen their knowledge about the wastewater treatment process.
"Volunteering at the plant really opened our eyes to see what the process is like from point A to point B," the volunteer group agreed. "It's incredible to see how hard county employees work to ensure that our water is clean and safe. It was truly a wonderful and educational experience."
WEOG plans to continue expanding its outreach to younger children and to work with regional wastewater partners during the annual Wonders of Water event.