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What Pollutes Our Water It was science time. The teacher told that class that they would now start preparing for this year’s science project. Molly and Rachel, the tightest twosome in class, were determined to win. Everyone else was talking about making fake volcanoes, lighting a bulb with a potato, and building a model solar system. “Those poor kids,” Molly and Rachel thought. “No creativity at all.” Molly and Rachel wanted to do something different. “What if we do something that actually helps people,” Molly volunteered. “That’s perfect!” Rachel answered. “And I know just what we can do! Do you remember last month when that pipe broke and all our water got shut off and nobody knew what to do?” “Sure,” Molly answered.” “Now that we know how important water is, what if we find out ways to keep it safe?” “That’s a great idea, Rachel!” Molly cheered. So they got down to work. First, they decided to find out ways that normal people pollute water on a daily basis. One rainy afternoon, they sat under a big umbrella next to a storm drain and noted things that washed down into it. Sticks, grass, dirt, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, some oily looking liquid, some unidentified black goop, pieces of asphalt, a few dead bugs, and some lawn fertilizer. “That was gross,” Molly said. “M-huh,” Rachel agreed. “And none of it gets cleaned before it gets dumped into the lake! Yuck!” Next, they researched some things online. Where else do pollutants come from? They learned that there were things they can’t see. For these, they decided to make a model. They chose to use lawn fertilizer and road salt to demonstrate. They built a little model neighborhood, with real dirt, grass, and a small piece of asphalt they found broken off on the road. They sprinkled road salt on the asphalt and fertilizer on the grass. Then, they sprinkled water on over it and showed how the fertilizer and rock salt dissolve and/or get washed down into the dirt. They showed that with more rain, the pollutants seep down into the subsurface water reserve (the Tupperware of water they placed beneath the dirt). Their demonstration worked very well. Finally, they narrated a short video presentation that talked about other common ways our groundwater gets contaminated. They talked about oil spills, exhaust from cars, acid rain, hot water, and sewage.


The teachers and judges were very impressed by all their hard work. But Molly and Rachel still had one more thing to do to finish their presentation. They handed out clear trash bags to everyone who came by. Stapled to the trash bags were tips for keeping down the number of pollutants their home created. The list included things like never littering (hence the trash bag), not letting your car idle, ways to keep your lawn healthy using less fertilizer, checking septic tanks often, and so on. Molly and Rachel won hands down. They were determined to make a difference in their community and successfully helped keep their subsurface water clean! Photo Credit: Christian Rasmussen, Wikipedia


What Pollutes Our Water