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Wasatch County manager says leaders interested in 'credible concerns' about treatment ponds

Ponds such as this one at the Heber Valley Special Service District are emitting an odor as a result of seasonal change.
Heber Valley Special Service District
Ponds such as this one at the Heber Valley Special Service District are emitting an odor as a result of seasonal change.

Wasatch County manager Dustin Grabau says complaints about wastewater treatment ponds near Midway have more to do with population growth than problems with the facility.

Residents who live near the Heber Valley Special Service District (HVSSD) say every spring, their health and quality of life suffer because of the smell of the district’s wastewater treatment ponds.

The Wasatch County Health Department asked Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services to do a study on the treatment ponds. In late February, a state toxicologist held a meeting with residents to hear their concerns. Her team is taking air samples around the ponds this spring to learn more.

On KPCW’s Local News Hour Tuesday, Wasatch County manager Dustin Grabau said he suspects problems stem from a higher population around the ponds rather than an issue with the facility.

“The main thing that has changed is residences have increasingly been built closer and closer to those sewer ponds,” he said. “And I think that’s kind of highlighted some of the issues that already existed previously.”

In February, the county discussed a possible industrial protection area that would include the HVSSD. The designation would add a layer of legal protection for the district against nuisance complaints. Grabau said if approved, the zone would help guard against “frivolous lawsuits.”

“To be clear, there is not yet an industrial protection area approved in the county,” he said, adding, “This just ensures that frivolous lawsuits would not have as much weight…. But I think credible concerns are still something that the council is interested in, and that I know the HVSSD board is interested in.”

Grabau said the area would not provide legal protection if major issues with the ponds were found.

Residents can learn more about the state’s health study and submit comments or symptoms on the DHHS project website.

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