Thursday, February 21, 2013


In the past few weeks a handful of current IslandWood graduate students have traveled over to northern Seattle to  shadow former IslandWood instructors working for King County's Brightwater Center.

Brightwater is a wastewater treatment system created to accommodate the growing King County. The plant began to operate in September 2011 and serves portions of King and Snohomish counties. Concurrent with operations beginning, IslandWood initiated a program that focused on the educational material a center like Brightwater could share share with the surrounding area. Currently, Brightwater offers educational programs that range from the water cycle to ecosystems to macroinvertebrates.

On the day that I visited I was fortunate enough to shadow Brian, a former IslandWood graduate. The focus for the day was the water cycle. Before heading out, Brian had the children brainstorm the various materials or compounds that could be extracted from the every day home. This was then broken down into four main stages that coincide with the Brightwater system.

1. Trash Removal
2. Organic Matter Removal
3. Bacteria Removal
4. Chemical Removal

He then went on to have each student complete a paper illustrating the Puget Sound Watershed.

Puget Sound Watershed
A student work detailing the water cycle and how it ties in to the Puget Sound Watershed.

The tour following this illustration took participants through every stage of the water treatment process. Clad in hard hats, we dove in deep.

 Brian Teaching 
Brian explaining one of the four stages of removal.

 The Final Drop
This is the final drop as water leaves Brightwater center. From this pour over, the water travels 13 miles and drains into the Puget Sound.

I learned a lot about water and a lot about what happens every time we turn on a sink, flush a toilet, or run the garbage disposal.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Brightwater, do it.


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