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Waste Water of Time

A few weeks ago we ran our weekend package on what the Hanford stimulus money means for the Tri-Cities. Different articles examined the money's impact on the Tri-Cities' population, housing, crime and schools. When the package started taking shape the photo department received an email with a list of photos needed to accompany the stories.

I was working a slow night shift when the email popped into my inbox. Most of the shots were time-specific or required prior arrangements, but a water treatment plant shot seemed doable on short notice and I was eager to take advantage of the pretty golden light.

I drove out on Chemical Drive toward the waste water treatment plant, keeping the window down and following my nose to the source. I worked the scene from the road for a bit, but didn’t come up with anything more interesting than this:

For the photo-inclined who are reading, yes, I know I missed a whole mess of dust spots, but can you really blame me for not wanting to spend that much time on a photo like this? I felt a little deflated and looked around for another possibility when I noticed some decidedly poopier looking water. I drove around to the back of the plant to get a better angle on it, but ended up walking a couple hundred yards along the railroad tracks until I saw this:

It's not a whole lot different from the clean water shot above, but I thought the filthy black water went well with the story about the impact of increased population, as did the homes in the background. I also liked the "X" shapes radiating from each spot. It wasn't great, but it was good, and I had taken the initiative to get a jump start on these photos, which would be an extra burden to handle while we continued shooting for the daily paper.

"I'm a hero!" I thought as I walked along the railroad ties, the last bit of sunlight fading with each wobbly (but springy) step. I thought the only thing that could ruin my splendor was being hassled by BNSF police for trespassing onto railroad property to get a photo of some poopy water.

Alas, I had overlooked the difference between a water treatment plant and a waste water treatment plant, a fact that reporter Joe Chapman gleefully pointed out to me after I triumphantly told him about how great and self-motivated I was.

I spent some time looking through the archives to justify using the waste water shot. Since the article explains how Kennewick had doubled its water treatment capacity three years ago and wasn’t going to be overrun by some new Hanford workers, I had hoped the waste water treatment plant was upgraded at the same time. Well, that justification didn’t exist and I ended up having a much prettier time shooting the water treatment plant:

It's funny how much one misunderstood syllable can foul you up. But unlike missing the "wo" before "men" on a bathroom door, all my mistake earned me was 40 minutes of breathing in some foul air.

It was a bit of poetic justice for my cubicle neighbors who have to deal with me kicking off my shoes at my desk.


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