By Jenny Goldsberry
As you’re counting the things you’re grateful for, don’t forget the gross stuff too! This month, Connection Publishing wanted to tell the history of something we all should be grateful for: a sewage system.
In the beginning, the Native American way of sewage was much different than today. They dug trenches to do their business in. You might think that it was the smelliest way to get rid of sewage. Luckily, the harsh winters froze the trenches; therefore, the smells went away.
Early settlers implemented the same idea, with some innovation for privacy. Instead of an open trench, they built outhouses. A septic tank wouldn’t arrive in the States until 1880. As a result, these settlers were still disposing of sewage directly into the ground. In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his historic New Deal to employ men to build outhouses for Americans. By this time, they were connected to septic tanks; however, it was still up to each household to empty the tanks every so often. Many tanks broke down, and raw sewage often ran into corrals with the barnyard manure.
Others in the Salt Lake Valley had already run out of places to store their sewage by that time. Since there were so many farmlands in North Ogden, they dug an open conveyance system to send their sewage up northwest. Once there, farms could use the system to create their own fertilizer. Later, it was much more effective to use manure. Plus, the conveyance systems were an eye sore.
The North Davis Metropolitan Sewer Association was formed in 1946 to acquire federal funding. Meanwhile, the North Davis Metropolitan Sewer had already been constructed in 1943. By 1954, it had the authority to levy taxes, issue bonds, and construct a sewage collection and treatment system.
Community leaders first thought to organize an all-urban area from Kaysville to Roy under one system, with a disposal plant in February of 1951. Notably, they even planned to have the disposal plant in Syracuse. The Syracuse City officials were against the move, feeling it was too expensive and the city would not benefit very much.
After the North Davis County Sewage Disposal Plant was completed in 1954, all cities included in the district were required to participate, including Roy. Two huge pipelines, one coming from Roy on the north and another from Kaysville and Layton on the south, interconnected at the sewer plant near the lakeshore. It was the cities’ responsibility to charge connection fees, do the inspection, and send out monthly billings. Money collected was turned over to the North Davis Sewer District; however, it was the district’s duty to maintain the main sewer lines. The sewer disposal plant continues to enlarge as the county grows.
Today, the district collects and treats wastewater from approximately 80 square miles for a population of about 200,000. The district is made up of the cities of Clearfield, Clinton, Layton, Roy, Sunset, Syracuse, West Point, a small area of Kaysville, Hill Air Force Base, and areas of unincorporated Davis and Weber counties. That means it serves the area extending north to south, from Roy to Kaysville, and east to west, from the Wasatch Mountains to the Great Salt Lake.
The district owns and operates approximately 100 miles of sewer collection lines, which deliver wastewater to the treatment facility located near the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake in Syracuse, Utah. The facility has the capacity to treat 34 million gallons of wastewater per day, consistently removing over 95 percent of pollutants and releasing treated water back into the environment of the Great Salt Lake.
Central Weber Sewer Improvement District’s wastewater treatment plant went into operation at its current location in 1960. It served the communities of Farr West, Ogden City, South Ogden City, City of Harrisville, Pleasant View City, Washington Terrace, Marriott-Slaterville, Riverdale City, Weber County, North Ogden City, South Weber City, South Weber City, City of West Haven, Hooper, portions of Plain City, Roy, and Uintah.
All sewage travels to one of the facilities with Central Weber or North Davis, which have been designed to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Any by-products of the treatment process are put to beneficial use too. Combustible sewer gas is generated as part of the solids treatment process. The gas is used to fuel engine-driven generators, supplying as much as 60 percent of the energy needs of the treatment plant and significantly reducing the amount of power that must be purchased from electrical utilities. The anaerobic digestion process and heating for buildings on site is achieved by utilizing heat from generator exhaust and cooling systems. The plant generates approximately 3,000 tons of dried biosolids each year. Upon compliance with federal regulations governing pathogen and pollutant content, these biosolids can be returned to the land and used beneficially as an organic soil amendment and fertilizer. Now, today’s sewage system still hearkens back to the early settlers’ system. After treatment, water discharged from the plant provides irrigation for all turf grass areas at the treatment plant site and for washdown water throughout the plant site.