Ogden Valley, western Weber County sewer needs focus of studies
OGDEN — With growth come people and — ahem — the byproducts that accompany an expanded population base.
Mindful of that, Weber County has contracted for a pair of studies meant, broadly, to get a gauge of sewage treatment needs in the higher growth areas of unincorporated Weber County. One study is focused around the Eden area in the Ogden Valley and the other zeroes in on western Weber County.
“Something has to be done. The development is just off the wall,” said Jan Fullmer, who lives in the Ogden Valley and helps lead an advocacy group made up of residents of the area, the GEM Committee.
Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins said at stake is the ability to more densely develop homes. Western Weber County can’t support an unlimited number of septic systems, the alternative to sewer treatment facilities, and if a better way of handling wastewater doesn’t emerge, county officials may have to take steps to keep development in check.
“Long term, we’ve got to solve this. We’ve got to come up with some system that’s doable there,” Jenkins said. “If we can’t check that somehow, then we’re going to have to legislatively slow (development) down.”
Some wastewater treatment facilities already exist in the two areas. But many homes are served by septic systems, and with septic systems come the risk of groundwater contamination by nitrates. Add more septic systems, and that risk can expand yet more, the driving force behind the studies.
“The more septic systems you have, the more stress it puts on the groundwater,” said Gary Myers, the Weber County engineer.
No specific plan of action has been identified at this stage. Myers is hoping the studies, carried out by Sunrise Engineering, will shed more light on the situation and help county leaders pinpoint potential next steps. Money, though, will likely be a key element of any expansion.
“Once you initiate a sewer system, there’s a lot of cost involved in that, so we’re trying to make a decision the appropriate way,” Myers said.
He’s hoping the studies are finished by next February. Meantime, Weber County officials have scheduled a meeting for Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Ogden Valley to give residents in that area a chance to learn more about the process and offer feedback. It’ll be held at Snow Crest Junior High School, 2755 N. Highway 162, Eden.
“We have evaluated septic tanks, infiltration, the current area growth and the potential need and locations for sewer treatment. Weber County would like to encourage public input as they determine the next steps for this project,” reads the Facebook announcement for the event.
Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer says a unified system covering the Ogden Valley area isn’t in the offing, but maybe two or three smaller systems could be added to the area. The Wolf Creek Water and Sewer Improvement District operates a treatment facility, but it covers only the Wolf Creek area.
The time is good to do the studies now, he added, because of the availability of federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds, meant to counter the economic hit of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Frankly, that’s one of the reasons we’re looking at it,” Jenkins said.
The money can be used on sewer projects and Weber County is in line to get $50 million in ARPA funding, with the possibility of more from the state, Froerer said.
Apart from the environmental benefits of treating wastewater, treatment facilities allow for recycling of water, another benefit. “This is as much about sewer as it is about reclaiming water,” Froerer said. That is, sewer treatment plants allow for reuse of wastewater — after it’s been treated and cleaned.
Myers noted the presence of the Central Weber Sewer Improvement District in western Weber County. That, he said, could potentially be expanded to serve the area.