What are the utility options in parks?

When we talk about utilities, there are many different categories involved. The most expensive utilities in any park are typically water and sewer. Additional utilities include electric and gas. Electric and gas are always provided by power companies, however, water and sewer can come in many different forms. This article will focus entirely on water and sewer alternatives in a park.

Many consider public water and public sewer to be the best option for these services. The rationale lies in the fact that the water supply is treated by the city municipalities along with the waste, leaving the park owner without these responsibilities. Unfortunately, the park owner is in charge of the underground lines for both water and sewer that reside within the park boundaries, which can be costly if they need to be fixed or, in worse case scenarios, replaced.

The second option for water is well water. Wells are used commonly throughout the country in more rural areas outside of major city development. A well works by drilling through the ground until the water table is reached and inserting a metal casement up to the earth’s surface from which the water is pumped. Wells require treatment to make the water safe to drink and frequent testing (often monthly) to ensure the water quality is up to drinkable standards. In addition, wells sometimes run dry, which requires a new well to be drilled. 

When it comes to sewage, alternatives to city sewers include septic tanks, a lagoon, or a wastewater treatment plant. Septic systems are by far the most common in the industry. This works by raw sewage collecting in a holding tank from each home or shared by multiple homes. From the tank, the sewage enters a leach field where it absorbs into the earth. These systems are very reliable for the most part, but often need maintenance by pumping out the tank periodically or replacing the leach field if it can no longer provide adequate drainage into the earth. 

A lagoon is also known as a cesspool. In this system, raw sewage collects in a single large holding area that was created by digging out the earth. From an aerial view, it appears as a rectangle or circle and sewage is allowed to evaporate into the environment. Many cities now ban the use of lagoons for obvious reasons, but they exist frequently in many older parks. Often, when these stop working, another lagoon being built is prohibited by cities, resulting in a massive expense should they fail.

The final sewer treatment is a wastewater treatment plant which acts like a municipal sewer plant on a smaller scale. These are excellent means of treating sewage but the biggest concern is when they stop working, as the expense to repair one can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.