Save Lagoon 

Lagoon is truly one of Utah’s treasures — a place of mirth and magic, a place for kids of all ages. It’s no wonder Frank and the lads at the Salt Lake Olympic Committee want to stage the 2002 Winter Games Nude Roller Coaster Marathon at the venerable amusement park in Farmington.

I have many warm memories of Lagoon — wrenching my neck on the Colossus, losing my lunch on the Hammer, and fracturing my big toe with an errant stroke on the miniature golf course. So it was with considerable distress that I read in The Salt Lake Tribune, the Official Newspaper of the 2002 Winter Games, that some do-gooder group from Leavittown (known to the uninitiated as Cedar City, or just plain Cedar) wants to close down Lagoon.

According to a recent article titled Hog Farm Stirs Debate on Waste Handling, the group wants to give the heave-ho to lagoons that store and treat the waste of a quarter-million hogs that live and breed happily down in Beaver, blissfully ignorant that the field trip they’ve been looking forward to after being penned up like pigs is actually a visit to the slaughterhouse.

Now I don’t know about the other Lagoons, but it would be a shame to give the heave-ho to the Lagoon we all know, love and cherish. By the way, how you would actually give the heave-ho to a huge Lagoon of pig excrement is a head-scratcher — unless the writer is referring to dry-heaving — but maybe the writer is just exercising the poetic license and syntactic thrombosis that makes the official Olympic newspaper read as though it were translated from German. (Here’s a sentence for you to parse: His division is the authority of what is BAT. ???)

As far as I can make out, some consortium of farms from out of state has been fattening pigs for slaughter down Beaver way, then piping the euphemistically termed waste — pig piss and shit — into Lagoons all over the state. Some of these Lagoons really stink. Even the pig farm boss concedes the stench is rank and ripe.

But I want to come to the defense of our Lagoon in Farmington. They are doing a reasonable job of keeping the smell well within the limits of the human gag reflex. Perhaps it has something to do with actions taken by Utah’s Division of Water Quality. According to the article in the paper, It gave the blessing to lagoons in the early ’90s. This must be like blessing your food before a meal or saying Bless you! when someone sneezes.

Apparently pig farm workers breathe in a lot of excrement dust and inhale heady amounts of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and methane. Their symptoms include hacking coughs, phlegm and a conviction that they have been infused with the Olympic Spirit.

Whoever performed the blessing on the lagoons, which must be something like dedicating a temple, is one of the unsung and anonymous benefactors of the human race and surely deserves our thanks and gratitude.

The blessing worked well enough at Lagoon, but apparently was not entirely successful at some of the other Lagoons. According to the paper, people are all stirred up about BAT, ground water, and odor. BAT is obviously a typographical error for bats, and the capital letters another idiosyncrasy of the Official Newspaper’s recently revised style book. The Lagoons in the boondocks seem to be suffering not just from the sickening stink of pig waste, but also from a visitation of bats, which the Germans, always sticklers for linguistic accuracy, properly call smelly flying rats.

Now we know why Utah is in the midst of a plague worse than the crickets of old. I’ll take crickets over airborne rodents any day. The ripe smell of Lagoons seems to attract the bats, but fortunately the ammonia and methane emissions dispatch the bats quickly and humanely.

The most disturbing information contained in the article is a statement by an official in the DWQ (I forget what that those letters stand for.) Lagoons are used throughout Utah to store human waste. Where are these Lagoons? And why is the waste being stored? I think we should get rid of it before 2002 rolls around. We want the people of the world to remember our snow, not our smell.

So let’s all get behind the National Pork Council’s Odor Initiative, so Frank will be able to enjoy his favorite Olympic event, the Lagoon Nude Roller Coaster Competition.

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