Once a year, from wherever we may be at the time, an old friend (from college roommate time) and I meet and take a short vacation together. We never really go anywhere stunning, just somewhere to moan about life and relax. This has nothing to do with real “vacations with family” but rather just time spent with an old friend. On our last one we went to Las Vegas.
Two trips for the price of one
The second reason for the trip was to do a story on the Las Vegas sewer system (sorry, the City of Las Vegas Department of Public Works / Water Pollution Control Facility). Focus of the story was: Just where does all that solid waste go after it’s been through the treatment facility? Well, I found out the answer to that question – and a whole lot more after a tour of the treatment facility and an interview with a chemist for the Department who I’m sure had better things to do than go on another tour with an out of shape media guy.
So aren’t you even the littlest bit curious? What to know what happens to all of the twigs, toys, clothing, Tampons, glass, and yes, human excrement of all sorts from Las Vegas? It gets hauled to a landfill. What happens is (I’ll cut it shorter than the hour-long tour and info session I did) sewage comes in, initial non-bio stuff gets separated in a bar screen, and sent on. Bio stuff starts its journey through various treatments until it’s cleaned, sterilized, and compacted. That is then reunited with the non-bio stuff and all of it is trucked to the same landfill that gets Las Vegas trash and garbage.
Here’s an interesting note: the landfill people actually like the stuff because it keeps the birds out of the trash and the wind from scattering it around.
The actual steps are:
Biological nutrient removal
After this, the solids are trucked as noted above and the water is sent to the golf courses and other places that use reclaimed water, or on to Lake Mead (testing of Lake Mead is done hourly by Las Vegas city, county, EPA and others to insure that the city stays within it’s license permit and that harmful bios aren’t being dumped in the lake).
And now you know just what is done with sewage in Las Vegas. But please don’t let this very brief description – that leaves out many, many steps and processes of what occurs – be your only source of information.
I’m sure that touring a facility like this probably hasn’t been high on your list of things to do with the family. But many public facilities have tours and information available for everyone and it is something you should take advantage of. After all, at some point you will once again be asked to vote on a bond measure to help pay for another facility – wouldn’t it be nice to actually see what happens with the money? And just how well those funds are truly spent?
Back to the trip
So anyway, the trip was fun; we ate, drank, and reminisced about vacation past and planned for the next. Just one downside: those clothes I had on for the tour went straight into a plastic bag and tossed. And you should have seen the looks I got upon entering the elevator for the ride back to the room…