Don't flush that; fourth-graders learn the ins and outs of the sewer system
March 14, 2019
WORLAND — About 85 fourth-graders from Worland West Side Elementary School got a glimpse into the inner workings of the city’s sewer lagoon during a recent field trip.
Public Works Superintendent Brian Burky and Jodie Crawford, chief wastewater treatment plant operator, said the tour was the first for the city. They set up three stations, teaching the students about work in the laboratory, about the Clean Water Act and the process of the lagoon.
Crawford said the city’s system does not use chemicals to clean the water before it is released into the Big Horn River, rather they use biologicals in the way of good bacteria. “It’s a good process,” she said. “When it leaves the system the water tests cleaner than the river water.”
The students learned what the city has to test for when the wastewater comes in and when the wastewater goes out, including pH, ammonia, E. coli and total suspended solids.
Crawford said the students got to do some hands-on learning with the total suspended solid trays.
She said they hope to make the field trip an annual event to help educate students about the system and what should and should not go into the system.
The city collects about a five-gallon bucket worth of debris off of the bar screen of things that should not be in the wastewater/sewer system. Some odd items that have come through the wastewater system are a Nerf football and a variety of plastic items, Crawford said.
Burky said they provided some fun facts for the students that they found fascinating including:
•The city has 51 miles of main sewer line, which means the lines could run from the sewer lagoon to Meadowlark Lake.
•The average person spends three years of their life on the toilet.
•We use an average of 57 sheets of toilet paper a day.
•The treatment plant for Worland receives, on average, 1 million gallons of wastewater every day.
•The wastewater spends at least 46 days in the ponds before being discharged into the river.
•There are 32.2 acres of surface water split between six ponds at the sewer lagoon.
•At the Worland Wastewater Treatment Plan you can find water beetles, geese, ducks, frogs and turtles and other insects, amphibians and wildlife.
One large fact, Crawford and Burky wanted to educate students and others on is that the flushable wipes available now, are in fact, not flushable. Crawford said they do flush but they do not break down in the city system so they ask people not to flush them.
They told the students that a toilet is not a trash can and to only flush the three Ps — poop, pee and (toilet) paper.
Another big no-no for going into the wastewater system is grease because again, while it may flush it usually does not go through the entire system but will end up clogging drains.
In addition to the three Ps, they taught the students to remember “Stop Clogs, Fight F.O.G.” F.O.G. stands for fats, oil and grease which do not belong in any drain.