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What happens after you flush?

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - Last week we showed you how some U.S. cities are considering using reclaimed waste water for drinking water. Here in Utah, that's not the case, but it got us wondering - how exactly does the waste water cleaning process work?
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - Last week we showed you how some U.S. cities are considering using reclaimed waste water for drinking water. Here in Utah, that's not the case, but it got us wondering - how exactly does the waste water cleaning process work?

Some 30 million gallons of waste water a day comes into the Salt Lake City Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The plant’s manager Dale Christensen explained, "In terms of what's actually organic material in the sewage you're looking about 99 percent of the waste stream is water."

The water and the solids are filtrated, cleaned and even recycled. The waste water comes into the treatment facility from the south and through the aerating grid system the last bit of inorganics are separated from the organic material.

From there it heads to the clarifying pools. The primary clarifiers are the second step in the filtration process and they act as big settling tanks where the solids fall to the bottom and are pulled off to the anaerobic digesters.

In the digesters there are millions of bacteria that eat the solid waste and produce methane gas. Here's where it gets interesting; the plant actually uses that methane gas to power its generators. A sustainable process that produces more than 60 percent of the power needed to run the plant and the re-use doesn't stop there.

Christensen explained, "After they've been digested they call that stabilized solids and send that to the drying beds."

From the drying beds the finished bio solids are then sold to landfills to be used as cap soil and to Kennecott to re-vegetate their tailing ponds.

As for the last steps for the left over waste water, after the clarifying ponds it's sent to the trickling filters and on to the polishing step of their aeration basins where bacteria eats the last bit of organic matter. Then it's off to the marsh lands and the Great Salt Lake.

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