Did you know that cholera and typhoid, resulting from poor sanitation and disposal of human waste, killed more soldiers in the Civil War than hostile actions? That comes right from the American Public Works’ publications, looking at the history of wastewater treatment.
And while we look ahead to the coming modernization of the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility, it’s good to look back at what brought us to this point.
In a few words, sickness and death. On the global front, according to water.org, reports say a child dies every 90 seconds from a water-related disease.
In the 19th century, it hit Americans hard, too. And, in 1889, Salt Lake City was among many across the country that first installed sewer lines in its main business district. Within 20 years, with expanded lines, the Gravity Outlet Sewer was pumping 21-cubic-feet of waste every second to the Sewage Farm at Redwood and I-215.
Later, a special canal was built, transporting sewage to the Great Salt Lake.
The 1972 Clean Water Act, put in action by the Environmental Protection Agency, reclaimed the nation’s lakes. Two-thirds of the country’s waterways are swimmable and fishable today because of the act, compared to a third in the 1970′s.
But Utah took action even earlier. In 1950, the Granger-Hunter Improvement District was created to provide culinary water and sanitary sewer services to residents of Granger and Hunter. Utah enacted its own water pollution control act in 1952 and broke ground for the Sewage Treatment Plant in 1963. Announcements of the $19 million Capital Improvements Program, which included $7 for the sewage plant, told supporters that upon completion, “the plant will enable the City to abandon its present primitive and – to many – offensive system of discharging some 32 million gallons per day of raw sewage daily via a nine-mile open canal into the Great Salt Lake.”
Since then, the sewage plan had its share of problems – its neighbors complained of odors – and successes, such as raising the funds needed to meet growing demands. And that continues today with the Granger-Hunter Improvement District joining four districts and two municipalities in the $250 million upgrade of the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility.
When completed, it will operate at a capacity of 87 million gallons a day, what some predict we’ll need to carry us into the population explosion expected by 2060.
So, the next time you take a flush, give thanks to the people who brought us to this point. Then pat yourself on the back for ensuring future generations won’t face what so many in our world do today.