Thousands of new, state-of-the-art water meters will soon serve Taylorsville residents more efficientlyMay 08, 2023 02:55PM ● By Carl Fauver
The Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District is one of seven water providers partnering to treat sewage at the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
The first thing that strikes you about the Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District are its staggering numbers:
• 4 billion gallons of clean water are delivered each year.
• 5 million gallons of raw sewage are piped away every day.
• 17,500 homes and businesses are served by the district.
• 437 miles of pipe are used for the culinary and sewer systems.
TBID General Manager Mark Chalk reports, beyond the numbers, he and his staff are constantly striving to update and improve – to make their strong service even stronger. At the moment, that drive is leading to a wholesale equipment update for every TBID customer.
“Over the next two years, the Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District will install more than 17,000 new water meters at homes and businesses, allowing customers to monitor their water use whenever they like,” Chalk explained. “The new automated metering infrastructure meters will allow people to check their water consumption through a website to track it more carefully.”
Big deal? Well, TBID Operations & Maintenance Director Shawn Robinson says it is for anyone who’s water conservation conscious.
“The website, or portal, should be operational by this fall,” Robinson said. “Residents will get real time information about how much water they’re using. It will help people detect potential water leaks much more quickly. Our customers will be able to tell what’s happening now, rather than waiting for the numbers in a bill when they’re old.”
TBID promises to send notices to all its customers when the new meters go on line, along with a thorough explanation of how the AMI system will better serve them.
Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson is pleased with her city’s water – and with her office’s relationship with the provider.
“I hear so many compliments about our water all the time,” Overson said. “We have good-tasting water. I really appreciate the Taylorsville-Bennion Water District. I was just in a meeting with Mark Chalk this morning, and we were talking about how strong and productive we feel our relationship is. The city has no concerns about their service and we feel they are very fair with their water rates.”
First established in 1957 – some four decades before Taylorsville City was born – Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District covers more than 13 square miles. Not quite every Taylorsville home or business is served by TBID, but well over 90% are. Similarly, not quite every TBID customer lives in Taylorsville. The district does have a few water and sewer connections in West Valley, Murray, Kearns and West Jordan.
Despite the millions and billions of gallons of clean water and dirty sewage the district moves around, it gets the work done with a modest staff of 34 full-time people. And once people land there, they seem to stay. Chalk hits 19 years with TBID this month. Robinson clocks in, so far, at 18 years.
“I hope to work here at least 30 years,” said the 1995 Granger High School graduate, Robinson. “When I started here on the water crew, I loved it because I was doing something different every day. I’d pour concrete one day…asphalt the next. I repaired our wells and fixed leaks. Then as the years went by, and my duties changed, I stayed because we’re still fairly small. It has a great, homey feel.”
A year before Robinson, Chalk also began on the TBID water crew. He’s been the district’s general manager since June 2019.
“I love it here,” Chalk said. “I’ve been given opportunities to move up. Sometimes it doesn’t happen as fast as you would like. But I’ve always wanted to be here. I love serving people. Doing that in water and sewer is both interesting and challenging.”
At the same time TBID is replacing all those water meters, the district is also nearing the end of a much larger, multi-million-dollar project designed to update the way it pipes its sewage from Taylorsville to the Central Valley Waste Reclamation Facility ( you and I would call it a “sewage treatment plant”).
As that less-than-desirable liquid moves east, every last gallon of it is piped under the Jordan River. After that, all the sewage has to rise in elevation, in order to gravity flow to the CVWRF. For decades, the improvement district has used something called Archimedes screws at its lift station to push the sewage up an incline. Google it – or simply think of it as the most pungent corkscrew you can imagine.
But that’s about to change.
“We are finishing up construction on a new 3-pipe siphoning system that takes sewage under the Jordan River and then draws it up the hill and on to (CVWRF),” Chalk said. “The construction cost is about $8 million. But we expect the new system to last 50 to 70 years.”
Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District is one of seven water providers in the Salt Lake Valley partnering together to operate the Central Valley Waste Reclamation Facility. That site is also in the midst of a $450 million makeover, thanks primarily to new Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
“The EPA changed its water requirements, ordering CVWRF to now remove phosphorus and nitrogen from its treated water,” Chalk explained. “That’s the primary reason for the overhaul, although there will also be many other upgrades to the site.”
Despite all these big-ticket capital expenditures, Chalk is proud to say Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District customers still make out well, financially.
“We are the lowest water rate around,” Chalk said. “It takes a finely-tuned machine to accomplish this. We provide reliable, high-quality drinking water. We get 60 to 70% of our water from our eight active wells. The rest we buy from Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.”
In the less than 20 years Chalk and Robinson have been at TBID, their water has won the prestigious American Water Works Association annual contest – for Utah’s best-tasting water – three times.
Which leads Taylorsville City Councilwoman Meredith Harker to wonder, who in the world could have won the other times?
“We have the best water in the whole valley – absolutely delicious,” she said. “I have tasted plenty of other water. But ours is clean, mountain spring water. I don’t think our residents have any idea what it takes to provide that water and to take care of our waste. It’s a fascinating process. And (GM) Mark (Chalk) is so nice and so passionate about what he does. (TBID) is great. And our water is worth every dime we pay for it.”
One final, positive note: Chalk recently appeared before the Taylorsville City Council, touting our record-setting winter moisture totals. But while Old Man Winter put a dent in our extreme drought conditions, Chalk still advises residents to exercise summer watering restraint.
And he’s confident the new-fangled AMI water meters will make that easier to do.λ