The winners of the Cleaning Dirty Water Competition shouldn’t come as a surprise. The winners are three members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Environmental Engineering — seniors no less — Joseph Doyle, Kyle Mischler and Jeremy Luebke.
The winning trio had stiff competition from the runner up team, “The Insolubles,” three students from a Hancock High School chemistry class — Mike McParlan, Murphy Mallow and Shannon Nulf. The class is taught by a Michigan Tech grad.
Other teams that competed included Quantum Huskies, a group of international students from Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Whiz Kids, a group of three eighth-grade students from Lake Linden-Hubbell Middle School and three members of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative task force.
The competition was held in recognition of World Water Day, Wednesday (March 22). This year’s theme was wastewater, hence the cleaning water competition.
Event coordinator Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and a member of the World Water Day planning committee, made the wastewater right before participants’ eyes. The wastewater was made up of household items that go down the drain. Each team was given a cup of wastewater and directed to clean it as best they could using only the materials provided — screen, sand, gravel, activated charcoal and alum.
After 20 minutes, the results came in. Martin Auer (CEE), a local wastewater treatment expert served as judge. All members of the winning team received $25 Michigan Tech gift certificates, which they generously handed off to the second place Hancock High School students, explaining “they didn’t have time to spend it, since they’d be leaving Houghton soon with graduation just a few weeks away.”
Globally, two billion people are without clean drinking water and three billion are without wastewater treatment. After treatment, wastewater is a valuable resource that can be returned to cities for drinking water.
Michigan Tech’s World Water Day events were sponsored by the following Michigan Tech departments and research centers: The Great Lakes Research Center, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, the Ecosystem Science Center, the Sustainable Futures Institute, Visual and Performing Arts and The Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.