Wendy’s Wonderful Water Journey

DC Water publishes a children’s book to educate elementary students about wastewater using clever imagery and illustrations.

Wendy’s Wonderful Water Journey

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DC Water’s new children’s book takes Wendy the Water Drop on a wonderful journey from the drain to the wastewater treatment plant. The 32-page rhyming book is illustrated with fun, engaging images.

“We researched children’s books on the topic of wastewater and couldn’t find any out there, so we decided to create and publish our own,” says Torri Epperson, education outreach coordinator for the utility.

The softcover book has been a big hit with educators, residents and nonresidents. Teachers like that it is nonfiction, a fun read and a reference source for teaching.

DC Water operates the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest of its kind in the world. It serves 701,000 residents, including neighboring counties in Maryland and Virginia. The utility has more than 1,350 miles of drinking water pipes and 1,800 miles of sanitary and combined sewers.

Education and revenue

Published in 2020, Wendy, Where Does Our Wastewater Go? was created for children ages 6-12. Besides its educational function, the book generates income for DC Water’s SPLASH Fund (Serving People by Lending A Supporting Hand), which provides funding for those needing financial assistance to avoid service disconnection.

At first the utility formed a team to explore what it would take to make the book happen. The DC Water communications team, utility staff and educators weighed in on the content. Epperson, an educator by profession, wrote the book. Two local college students provided the illustrations, and treatment plant operators and process engineers reviewed the content for accuracy.

The creation team worked with educators to make sure the book was written appropriately for elementary grades.

The book starts with several children pondering where water goes once it goes down the toilet or the drain. They go into the community, find Wendy the Water Drop, and ask her. She explains the term wastewater to them and takes them on a journey through the pipes and processes of their local wastewater treatment plant to show them how wastewater is cleaned.

Along the way, Wendy tells about all the people working behind the scenes to make it happen. She explains that the cleaned water returns to the river so that people can enjoy it and wildlife can flourish. The end of the book includes vocabulary words, quiz questions and experiments for the children to try at home or in class.

Distributed widely

The book sells for $14.99; residents and non-residents can buy it. It is now available on Amazon. Utilities from around the country and world can purchase the digital content and re-brand it to fit their facilities and services.

The utility donated several copies to the DC Public Library and to local teachers. Staff members also placed copies in Little Free libraries around the service area and offered a free reusable water bottle for residents who found the copies. They also plan to sell the book through retail websites and offer an e-reader version.

The utility team is now working on a series of 10 books with different storylines. The next one will be on the potable water treatment process. DC Water established the nonprofit subsidiary Blue Drop LLC to help offset rate increases for DC residents (www.bluedrop.co).

Besides the sale of the book on the Blue Drop website, the utility also sells Wendy-branded merchandise, Bloom fertilizer manufactured from biosolids, and Pipe Sleuth software that helps utilities review video footage to identify anomalies in sewer pipes. DC Water also rents out space in its headquarters building for events.

Positive feedback

In the past year, DC Water has sold and distributed several hundred copies of the book. Reaction from residents, students and educators has been extremely positive. One student from the United Kingdom was doing an experiment from the book involving grease floating on water. His grandfather took a picture of his experiment with the book in the shot, emailed it to the utility and told how much his grandson liked the book.

“We were encouraged to see the book touching many young minds and expanding beyond the U.S.,” says Torri Epperson, the book’s author. “It was also a nice promotion for our facility and what we’re doing in the district.” 


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