Environmental program at MA treatment plant helps youth learn viable skills

EPA's Youth and the Environment Program was recently held at the Regional Wastewater Utility in Lowell, Mass.

BOSTON, MA, Aug. 19, 2013 -- The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Youth and the Environment Program was recently held at the Regional Wastewater Utility in Lowell, Mass., and focused on introducing economically-disadvantaged inner city youth to career opportunities in the environmental field. The program promotes environmental education and provides high school students with increased awareness of protecting the environment and water quality within their own communities.

Four high school students in the city were able to learn firsthand about where our wastewater goes, how to protect our environment and what jobs are available in the field of the environment, thanks to the hard work of a few individuals and organizations. These groups, that made the program possible, were honored at a ceremony on 9/17 at Lowell City Hall.

The students worked at several "stations" at the wastewater plant, including the laboratory, the pretreatment area, maintenance, and collection system, and were able to rotate between areas so they were exposed to different facets of the wastewater treatment plant operation. The students also went on field trips related to science and water quality, and participated in college and career counseling.

The program at the utility has been supported for the past two summers by a grant from EPA's National Environmental Justice Program grant. The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) received $15,000 in funding that allowed it to oversee the program for the past two summers, working with the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility and the Career Center of Lowell. NEIWPCC has administered this program over the past 20 years.

Mark Young, executive director of the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility, as well as his staff, joined City Manager Bernie Lynch and the staff at the Lowell Career Center as they were honored for the time and effort they put into working with students interested in the environment through the Youth and the Environment Program.

After the first Youth and the Environment Program in 1990, the program continued for 18 summers until 2007, when funding cuts put it to a halt. In 2010, EPA worked with NEIWPCC to jump start the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility Program after a two-year hiatus.

“EPA's Youth and Environment Program is essential in promoting the importance of water quality and environmental protection to future generations by having water and wastewater professionals help educate and interact with interested youth in the community," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

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