How Did Humans Survive Without Modern Waste Water Treatment?

by Robert John Stevens, September 8, 2017

I was denied an appeal on Wednesday from a board of four Utah County residents, one was Larry Ellertson a former Utah County Commissioner. I hope my follow-up email, also posted below, offers insight.

Dear Craig (Bostock), Jason (Garrett), Ralph (Clegg) and Carl (Hollan),

Congratulations again on denying my appeal on Wednesday.

At the taxpayers expense, at least six county employees were paid to be at Wednesday’s meeting plus a county lawyer to represent you. I had no representation.

A woman was there recording the event. I give no authorization for that to be used.

You managed to uphold Jason’s water depth reading of 18″ that Craig then required to be written on my subdivision plat, which reading was observed from a 3′ hole, even though you know there is no precedent in Utah County or Utah State Code that justifies that approach as accurate science.

Within days, the water drained and the hole was empty.

An 18″ water depth will require a $24k waste water treatment system vs one half that cost.

You convinced the appeal board that a gray/black line in the soil represents the water table at some time even though you know the material was never analyzed in a lab, nor do you know if it formed from the Lake Bonneville shoreline 14,500 years ago.

You ignored that confirmation by Hugh Hurlow, Senior Scientist at Utah Geological Survey:

2. When an excavator digs a six-foot trench, I see one or more layers of gray-black sediment in the trench walls. What are those layers and do they help determine previous groundwater levels?

If they are dense clay, they may be previous deposits of lake mud (higher levels of Utah lake or, if much older, Lake Bonneville); or if they are more coarse-grained and contain organic material they may be old soil horizons. They probably do not provide information on past groundwater levels.

You ignored the fact that the gray/black matter is found at difference depths. What possible explanation could there be for that? Another of Hugh Hurlow’s answers:

4. Why does the depth of those layers differ in nearby trenches? For example, the layers in two holes dug 280 feet apart differ by 10 inches.

That is not a huge difference geologically, but reasons for the difference may include variation in the land surface during the time the layers were deposited (for example, a slight hill/depression that was submerged beneath an older, larger version of Utah lake), or differential subsidence of the land surface after the layers were deposited, or they are not exactly the same layer.

You convinced the appeal board that water depth can be higher for a lot in the middle of two others of lower depth even though you know that water depth follows the slope of the land and my three lots are relatively flat.

You used fear and told the elderly appeal board that using the same waste water treatment you approved for both neighboring lots would be insufficient and may contaminate the underground water when you know if waste water ever reached the underground well depth of 140 feet deep, it would be filtered.

Craig then used more fear and said waste water may reach Utah Lake and contaminate that water when you know that treated and untreated human waste has been dumped into Utah Lake for decades and that animal and farm waste contaminates our streams.

You also know that until recently, probably all of your ancestors back to Adam dumped waste on their own property but somehow they survived long enough to reproduce and you exist; however you would probably not exist if government regulations made it impossible for them to immediately move onto their land.

You tossed out the entire year of official water depth testing on my lot using pedometers by claiming tests are only good for five years.

Jason claimed the ground was dry when he observed water in a 3′ hole even though he knew it was the wettest winter snow melt off since 1983, and even if there wasn’t mud on his boots the ground underneath was soaked and draining.

I had hoped that the discussion would have revolved around possible lower-cost remedies such as:
A. Till the ground so the dirt soaks up future moisture
B. Install an underground lateral pipe back to the manhole for gravity-fed draining
C. Install a sump pump at the lowest point and pump water uphill to the manhole
D. How to convince UDOT to cover the pipe under 7300 South that conveys flood water across the street to my lot

I had hoped that new, innovative remedies would have been proposed by you.

Installing an alternative waste-water system was never the issue–stamping my plat with an 18″ reading, upholding phony science and unscientific water depth testing was.

You read Utah State Code saying water depth can be determined by a black line without giving me a copy to read and cross examine.

Two of the four board members upheld you even though one had trouble keeping awake during the meeting.

By default, you were right and I had to prove you wrong, not the other way around as it should be.

If you must comply with one-size-fits all state code then why do you have 290 pages of county land-use ordinances?

Did the Founding Fathers establish a system of government to create top-down laws on all issues? Or should lower levels of government be given the freedom to override upper levels wherever the U.S. and state Constitutions not apply?

Or are constitutions dead? Unalienable rights certainly are or you would have recognized and defended my property rights.

Because property rights are basically dead, the state giveth and the state taketh away.

Isn’t one of the purposes of smaller governments to welcome innovation and function as incubators? How can that be one with crippling regulations at every level?

Again, congratulations on your victory. You ignored previous water depths and chose the one you wanted at the expense of plausibility, sound reasoning and liberty.

I’ve concluded my reasoning isn’t enough and that I need basic legal and presentation skills or a good lawyer.

No waste water treatment system is perfect. None can protect against mother nature or biblical events like the recent two trillion gallons of water that rained upon Houston.

Good government recognizes there is a tradeoff between protecting health and protecting private property which allows people to live on their land and make improvements without government interference.

God intended us to live our lives by the sweat of our brow and by living on our own property.

Utah County’s massive regulations have kept us from living on our own land for fourteen years. All I can do is fight, make serial improvements and sell parcels to pay for the development costs.

Sometimes an old man parks his car on our land. His family farmed it and lived there before government interference. They had no waste water treatment system and drank from a shallow well.

Five of our seven kids are now grownups and never learned the meaning of hard work that comes from living on one’s farm.

How will you defend your actions and the corrupt regulations you uphold at Judgment Day?

I have included Hugh’s email response in its entirely below for your review.

Sincerely,

Robert Stevens


Responses from Hugh Hurlow, April 10, 2017 to my questions below:

1. How may I best determine the groundwater table at any given location?
The U.S. Geological Survey publishes groundwater levels at https://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/. Select Utah from the Search by State/Territory pulldown menu, then zoom to your area. In the lower-left part of the screen, select Groundwater Sites, and under that select both Active and Inactive Sites, and you will see quite a lot of sites in your area. You can view and download the data for any given well by clicking on the teardrop, then on Access Data in the window that appears. The Active sites are good because they show historical trends and include the most recent data.

2. When an excavator digs a six-foot trench, I see one or more layers of gray-black sediment in the trench walls. What are those layers and do they help determine previous groundwater levels?
If they are dense clay, they may be previous deposits of lake mud (higher levels of Utah lake or, if much older, Lake Bonneville); or if they are more coarse-grained and contain organic material they may be old soil horizons. They probably do not provide information on past groundwater levels.

3. If those layers do provide evidence of historic groundwater levels, how can I determine the age and duration of those levels?
Layers like that can sometimes be dated by small fossils (bivalves) called ostracodes, either by paleontology or the chemical composition of their shells, or by radiocarbon dating of woody material if preserved. These are pretty specialized and expensive techniques, so you would need to get in touch with someone from one of the local Universities that are interested in dating the layers. You could call the geololgy departments to see if anyone works on lake history and see if they want to look at the trench. The ages would more likely relate to the history of Holocene (younger than about 10,000 years) or Pleistocene lakes than groundwater.

4. Why does the depth of those layers differ in nearby trenches? For example, the layers in two holes dug 280 feet apart differ by 10 inches.
That is not a huge difference geologically, but reasons for the difference may include variation in the land surface during the time the layers were deposited (for example, a slight hill/depression that was submerged beneath an older, larger version of Utah lake), or differential subsidence of the land surface after the layers were deposited, or they are not exactly the same layer.

5. What other evidences may I use to determine current and historic groundwater depths because digging trenches present many variables to consider such as the pressure of the incoming water, the saturation of the dirt and the dirt’s ability to transport the water out versus up?
Search the Active Sites in the U.S. Geological Survey NWIS cited above, and find the well(s) with the longest time record. Some of them could go back to the late 1930s. Alternatively, if you are interested in pre-historic groundwater levels, I think that one or two of the professors at BYU has been interested in using old thermal spring deposits to look at past lake level, groundwater, and climate history. Try Greg Carling or Steve Nelson in the Geology Department.