Frequently Asked Questions

  • What type of water is going into The Great Salt Lake?
    A key element of the North Davis Sewer District’s (District) mission is to “operate and maintain wastewater collection and treatment facilities to exceed regulatory requirements…”.  As such, all wastewater that is collected by the District from its service area is received, treated, and disinfected by the District’s water reclamation facility before discharge to the Great Salt Lake.  All water going into the Great Salt Lake is fully treated and disinfected to meet and or exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State of Utah requirements for waters used for primary (e.g., swimming underwater) and secondary (e.g., boating, wading) recreation and by aquatic and avian wildlife.  
  • Will all water flow be stopped to Farmington Bay?  
    No.  Water will continue to flow to Farmington Bay while the pipeline is constructed (through September 2023) and then intermittently (months at a time) while the District implements a Phragmites control program to improve bird habitat in Farmington Bay (through December 2025).   The District will be discharging the vast majority of its water to Gilbert Bay beginning in January 2026; intermittent flows that exceed 34 million gallons per day will continue to flow into Farmington Bay into the future.   The District is currently working with conservation groups to better understand the benefits of freshwater along the lake’s shoreline and look for opportunities to optimize its water use to enhance bird habitat in Farmington Bay.
  • What will happen to the bird habitat?  
    A primary goal for relocating the District’s outfall to Gilbert Bay is to preserve its discharge to the Great Salt Lake. Maintaining this flow to the Great Salt Lake is critical to the health of the ecology (including bird habitat), economy, and communities that depend upon Great Salt lake.  Relocating the District’s primary outfall to Gilbert Bay will undoubtedly change the bird habitat at the District’s current outfall in Farmington Bay.  It will not, however, eliminate it.

The District is currently implementing strategies that will preserve and enhance existing bird habitat and is working with state agencies and conservation groups to identify additional opportunities to optimize the use of its water to enhance bird habitat in Farmington Bay.  Current strategies include building a pipeline to maintain existing drainage flows from Davis County that currently also discharge at the Farmington Bay location. The District has committed to invest in a three-year program to control over 535 acres of the invasive Phragmites at its current discharge location in Farmington Bay. The Phragmites control program will open up these 535 acres, currently not available to waterfowl and shorebirds, into restored habitat that will be supported by the drainage waters from Davis County.  


  • How long will construction take?

Scheduled to be complete in September 2023.


  • What environmental effects will this have?  
    • Water quality is of concern in Farmington Bay. Relocation of the District’s discharge point eliminates the District’s entire nutrient load from Farmington Bay. This alternative provides protections to Farmington Bay and its beneficial uses that are above and beyond the District’s implementation of current regulatory requirements and possible future, more stringent water quality limits for Farmington Bay.
      • Gilbert Bay is less sensitive to nutrient input and specifically phosphorus. Several factors indicate that Gilbert Bay is less sensitive to, has historically allowed it to, and will continue to allow it to successfully receive, assimilate, and respond to the nutrients it receives. These include:  
        • Gilbert Bay is naturally nitrogen-limited.  Its chemistry naturally makes its waters much less sensitive to nutrients than Farmington Bay.
        • The quantify of the District’s flow relative to the naturally large inflows, the volume of and dynamic mixing conditions of Gilbert Bay. 
        • The much higher salinity of Gilbert Bay. Many algal species that often make up harmful algal bloom cannot survive in the higher salinity of Gilbert Bay.
        • Gilbert Bay’s productivity.  The brine shrimp in Gilbert Bay effectively control algal populations and thus significantly minimize the risks of undesirable responses from the District’s water.  Farmington Bay has historically not supported a robust brine shrimp population.


    • Relocating the outfall eliminates the need to build a new wastewater treatment plant that would likely divert the District’s waters for reuse in Davis County. The new outfall preserves the flow of these waters to the Great Salt Lake for the foreseeable future; something that is critical to the health of the Great Salt Lake and the ecology, economy, and communities that depend upon it.


    • Relocation of the District’s discharge point both offsets benefits from simply meeting water quality requirements in Farmington Bay and provides a greater net benefit to the Great Salt Lake and its beneficial uses. Eliminating all of the District’s nutrient load from the potentially impaired Farmington Bay and relocating it to the natural nitrogen-limited and less sensitive Gilbert Bay effectively offsets benefits from simply meeting water quality requirements in Farmington Bay.