AVILLA – Have you ever wondered where the water in your sink comes from? Donald Papai wrote a children’s book, called Journey to the Source, A Drinking Water Adventure, that answers that question. Papai’s goal for the book, which took five years to write and illus-trate, is to get children to think about the environment and to get them interested in a career in water treatment.
The book is a tour starting at the sink, that goes through the city distribution system, the water plant, and ends at the aquifer. The illustrations, done locally by Rebecca Cross, at each stop show the technical side with a child’s point of view. Papai has plans for a book, about wastewater and intends to title it Down the Drain, A Waste-water Adventure.
Clean drinking water is a renewable resource that no one can live without but few think of as a career. A lot of education and state certification is required to operate a water treat-ment plant.
Papai and his family moved to Avilla from Fort Wayne in 1974. He attended Avilla Elemen-tary and the East Noble school system from second grade on. During this time, his family had a two-acre pond and they were looking for a way to control the weeds and algae. Someone suggested that they add a little copper sulfate. Since there was a lot of weeds, they thought adding more copper sulfate would work. The result was that the water turned black and all the fish died. They took a sample of the water to the Avilla Water Plant to determine what happened. The Superintendent tested the water using the Winkler Method and added some chemicals to determine the amount of oxygen in the water. The test result was that there was no oxygen in the water and that is why the fish had died. Too much copper sulfate had been added to the pond. As a boy, Papai was amazed watching the chemistry involved in testing the water.
After high school, Papai went into the U.S. Army. He wanted to be in the Military Police but did not meet the requirements. The recruiter, in turn, suggested that he be a Water Treatment Specialist. Papai enlisted and received schooling and achieved his diploma from the Army Institute of Professional Development. He was in the Army until December of 1989. His first job was at the Budd Company in Kendallville. In 1993 he began working for the Town of Avilla in an entry-level position and worked his way up to Superintendent in charge of the Water Plant. After 17-1/2 years working at Avilla, Papai went to work for The Alliance of Indiana Rural Water starting as a Wastewater Circuit Rider. Later, he became Water Training Director where he taught continuing education classes. He was also the Superintendent in Huntertown. Currently, Papai works for Sandhill Environmental Services in Angola. In all, he has over 30 years of water treatment experience and holds a Class 3 Certification. A Class 4 Certification, which is the highest obtainable, would be required for managing a water treatment plant for large cities like Indianapolis and South Bend.
Writing short stories is one of the things Papai enjoys and he has written over forty short stories, beginning in grade school. Journey to the Source, A Drinking Water Adventure is the first of his stories published. He also enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and is an avid Colts fan.
Journey to the Source, A Drinking Water Adventure, can be purchased from Donald by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 260.349.5932. Or mail order copies (USA only) by sending $20 per book to Donald J. Papai, P.O. Box 254, Avilla, IN 46710.