Nonfiction in response to Clean Water and Sanitation
June 2018

Keeping Water Clean

By Grace Muresan
Image Credit: Grace Muresan

Everybody knows that water is important. We need it to live, and use it for lots of things including eating, drinking, hygiene, and recreation. But after you brush your teeth or drain the bathtub, where does that dirty water go?

 

There is a basic 4-step procedure that is used globally to clean water.

1. Coagulation and Flocculation - Coagulation and flocculation are often the first steps in water treatment. Chemicals are added to the water, which stick to the particles in the water, and make them heavier.

 

2. Sedimentation - During sedimentation, the heavy particles settle to the bottom of the water due to their weight.

 

3. Filtration - Once the particles have settled to the bottom of the water, the clear water on top will pass through filters of varying compositions (sand, gravel, and charcoal) and pore sizes, to remove dissolved particles, such as dust, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.

 

4. Disinfection - After the water has been filtered, a disinfectant (e.g. chlorine) is added in order to kill any remaining parasites, bacteria, and viruses, and to protect the water from germs when it is piped to homes and businesses.

 

Although this is the current water cleaning system, a new water system has already been invented. It is simpler and possibly better than the current system, in the way that it does not use disinfection which may be harmful to health, however it is not used globally yet. It consists of the following steps:

 

1. Microfiltration – Microfiltration is filtering the water through multiple tiny filters.

 

2. Reverse osmosis – Reverse osmosis is putting a liquid through a semipermeable membrane using pressure. This process is foolproof enough to clean salt water.

 

3. Ultraviolet light – Ultraviolet light kills all remaining parasites, bacteria, and viruses. It replaces disinfection.

 

If this system is accepted globally, we may be able to start filtering salt water for use.

However, water is not the only important subject to Santa Clara County Water District. Thanks to Mrs. Janet Hedley, my brother and I could take a field trip to this Water District.

 

Santa Clara County Water District is very busy, as it provides stewardship for the county’s five watersheds, including 10 reservoirs, hundreds of miles of streams and groundwater basins. The water district also provides flood protection throughout Santa Clara County.

 

This Water District is essential in providing the people in Santa Clara County with clean water and protecting them from floods.

 

Before cleaning water, where does water come from? Of course, there is a lot of water in the seas and oceans, but that is all salty water. We can only use fresh water, and cleaning salt water is a far more complicated process. Most water sources come from groundwater like aquifers, because surface water is more likely to be polluted.

However, surface water is also a very important water source in many places, so it should be protected as well.

 

Although it is water districts’ job to clean our water, litter that we toss on the street or anywhere other than a trash can may blow to a body of water and slowly dissolve. The trash adds up, and soon lakes, rivers, ponds, oceans, and all bodies of water will be clogged with garbage.

 

To help protect the world’s water sources and keep them clean, a main concept is to read all signs near the body of water! Signs near bodies of water often tell key information about what you are permitted to do, for example whether fishing is allowed or not or if pets are allowed.

 

Another action that you should do everywhere is to clean up after yourself. Although you may think one piece of trash does nothing bad to the environment, that garbage isn’t leaving Earth. It is already contaminating water and hurting animals, and pollution adds up.

 

Wildlife is also greatly affected by polluted water sources. Salmon, for example, once plentiful, now have many more obstacles in life, the natural including predators, climate change (possibly man-made as well) and natural disasters, and the man-made including poaching, habitat destruction, dams and river blockage, unregulated overharvesting, and of course, pollution.

 

Water is one of the most precious substances on Earth. Without it, life on Earth would not exist. Take care of water, and never litter. Saving water is saving lives.

2018 Actions in Spotlight

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