While some couples in the Athens area are planning to spend Valentine’s Day having a nice dinner or seeing a movie, the more unconventional romantics will be spending it learning what happens after they flush their toilets.
The Athens-Clarke County Water Reclamation Facility is holding their 5th annual Valentine’s Day tour of the plant. This year, they even have a waitlist.
What is it?
Sofia Ivanova and her boyfriend, Michael, went on the tour two years ago. She said when she first heard about it, she laughed.
“I was like this is the goofiest thing ever. Why would I go to a water reclamation facility on Valentine’s Day,?” Ivanova said.
But after some encouragement from her friends on Facebook, she and Michael decided they had to go see what it was all about.
She said the facility has cute surprises set up at each stop, so couples could enjoy the special beauty of water reclamation. There were photo opportunities, themed refreshments and even a chocolate fountain.
Ivanova said the best part was getting to go on a date that actually taught her, not only about her community, but also what she can do differently in her everyday life to help the environment.
What Happens at the Plant?
Shortly after it was announced this year, the tour quickly filled up and a waitlist was formed that was long enough to hold two more tours.
Water Conservation Coordinator Laurie Loftin said it doesn’t surprise her at all that so many people want to spend their day learning what happens after they flush their toilets.
“How we can take water that has come from a toilet, run down a shower drain, laundry, how it comes to us and within 24 hours we can take that water and change it into something that is high quality,” said Loftin.
When the water first arrives at the plant, it goes into a tank, and all of the human waste and trash is removed. It is then moved into a basin where the ammonia and phosphorus is removed.
The third step is letting the water sit for a while so the sludge is allowed to settle out. Finally, it runs down a waterfall and back into the river, so it can flow to the next community and they can pull it out and filter it into drinking water.
The entire plant has the capability to bring in and clean 14 million gallons of water per day. That’s enough to fill almost 19 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Why on Valentine’s Day?
Loftin knows this unconventional way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is not how most couples plan to spend this romantic holiday.
“It’s not for everybody, I understand. You’ve got to have a little bit of a quirkiness to you to want to come and do this, but it is definitely something memorable,” said Loftin.
With some romantic twists to the tour like rose petals and scented candles, Loftin said her fingers are crossed for some loving couple to get engaged.
If you didn’t get your name on the list in time for the water reclamation facility tour, check out some of our other date night ideas in Athens.
Sarah Hammond is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.