A new wastewater treament plant unveiled here Monday should ensure that contaminated wastewater will no longer seep into fresh groundwater supplies.

A side benefit of the plant is that it will allow much of the 100,000 gallons of wastewater produced daily to be recycled and used again at the desert base, where water is scarce.

Wastewater from such industrial operations as paint stripping, degreasing and parts cleaning had been dumped into a large lagoon that is not lined on the sides and bottom. Groundwater monitoring showed wastes from the lagoon were leaching into nearby groundwater supplies.

So state and federal environmental laws and agreements dictated that the Army stop dumping into the lagoon by Nov. 8.

Gov. Norm Bangerter, Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and Maj. Gen. William B. McGrath, commander of the U.S. Army Depot System Command, cut the ribbon on the new facility Monday. However, the plant is not scheduled to begin operation until November, and will continue to be tested until then. The plant will allow some wastewater to be recovered for industrial uses at the base. The rest of the wastewater will be cleaned enough so that it can be safely dumped into Tooele City's wastewater treatment system.

McGrath said that with the new plant, Tooele Army Depot will be in compliance with all applicable environmental laws.

"When we built these facilities in World War II, the philosophy was start building now and worry (about the environment) later ... our major objective was to win the battle." But he said the new plant shows the Army is now worrying about the environment and is trying to protect it.

Hansen praised the new plant as a cooperative effort by state, federal and local governments to stop contaminated water from leaking into groundwater supplies.