Where’s that stuff come from?

Learning cycle: French Broad River Academy students visit the RiverLink office to learn about the urban water cycle, the focus of the upcoming tour. (Photo courtesy of RiverLink) photo courtesy of RiverLink

After millions of gallons of raw sewage spilled into the French Broad River last week, RiverLink, a nonprofit supporting the river’s economic and environmental revitalization, saw an educational opportunity.

“If people are going to be concerned with how wastewater is managed, then it would be helpful to understand the process that actually goes along with it,” says RiverLink Education Coordinator Nikki Bauman.

To facilitate a deeper community understanding of the urban water cycle and related processes, the nonprofit will host a tour of Asheville's wastewater treatment plant with the Metropolitan Sewerage District (MSD) of Buncombe County. The tour, scheduled for Tuesday, June 4, at 10 a.m., is open to the public and children ages 11 and older. The approximately 1.5-hour tour is limited to 20 people.

The urban water cycle, Bauman explains, is a three-step process: water from the drinking water reservoir is treated, then filtered, purified and distributed throughout the community before being piped through a sewer to the MSD plant, where it’s treated again and released into the river.

"Very few people understand the very natural process that treatment is all about after they flush,” Peter Weed, director of MSD's wastewater treatment plant, said. “At MSD, we have a unique treatment, and it's the largest of its kind in the world.” For example, MSD uses microorganisms and bacteria to filter wastewater. “It's a very natural process.”

An virtual tour is available at www.msdbc.org. To schedule educational group tours of MSD, call Dennis Lance at 225-8266. To schedule a tour of the wastewater treatment plant, contact Peter Weed at peterw@msdbc.org.

RiverLink also has an interactive model of the urban water cycle in its office at 170 Lyman St., open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To RSVP for the June 4 tour, contact RiverLink at 252-8474.

— Caitlin Byrd can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 140, or cbyrd@mountainx.com.


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