From the Clouds to the Tap: Part 2

Last month we talked about how the water we drink comes from rain and snow, and how WaterPro’s water rights ensure that the residents of Draper get the water they need.

So, once you have water rights, how do you get the snow water from the mountains into your home? It’s called infrastructure.

The 19th Century: Irrigation Ditches and Cholera

Back before Draper Irrigation Company (parent company of WaterPro) was founded in 1888, farmers in Draper were primarily concerned about water for their crops. Using picks and shovels, they dug canals and irrigation ditches. They lined them with rocks to keep the water from soaking into the soil. They built head-gates so that farmers could take turns getting water from the ditches.

Drinking water was an afterthought. Most people used buckets to get water from the irrigation ditch for drinking, cooking, and washing. As a result of drinking this untreated water, every year dozens of people in the Salt Lake valley died from water-borne diseases like cholera.

1911: Culinary Water Service Begins

Soon after the turn of the 19th century, Draper Irrigation Company began supplying culinary (drinking) water in pipes to people’s homes. This was an improvement over drinking from an open irrigation ditch, but the water was still not treated. Water that came directly from the mountains was usually pretty clean, but not up to today’s sanitary standards.

1936: Screens and Settling

In those days, there was usually a simple screen at the water intake to keep leaves and debris out of the water. In 1936 the company built a settling tank where drinking water could be stored temporarily while the dirt settled out.

1952: Chlorination

In the mid-20th century, the county Board of Health began to insist that the water be treated – but not for the health of the residents. Instead, it was because of dairy cows. In order for Draper farmers to be able to sell their milk as Grade A in Salt Lake City, they needed a chlorinated water source.

Many customers complained about the taste of the chlorinated water, but chlorination was here to stay.

1960s: Plans for a Treatment Plant

Soon, chlorination by itself was no longer enough. Standards for clean water were becoming more stringent, and the State Health Department told the company that in order for the culinary system to be rated as Approved, the company would need to build a treatment plant. While this would be expensive, the company began to make plans.

Next month: The Water Treatment Plant