'It's Aliens!': Utah residents bewildered by mysterious music coming from sewers and toilets

'Just really kind of eerie, but it was beautiful,' said a Salt Lake City resident who lived nearby the sewer construction site

'It's Aliens!': Utah residents bewildered by mysterious music coming from sewers and toilets
Utah residents were shocked to hear 'music' coming from a construction site (KSLTV video screenshot/@newswithShelby/Twitter)
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SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH: The neighbors living downtown Salt Lake City are in hullabaloo by musical phenomena amidst the neighborhood construction. Citizens were bewildered by the music coming from the sewers and speculated it was caused by extraterrestrial beings after they couldn't wrap their minds around the sound coming from the construction site

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Downtown resident and Musician Rosemary who lives one block east of State Street said she heard a B augmented chord repeatedly outside of her window during the construction and is calling the sound beautiful. “Just really kind of eerie, but it was beautiful,” Olsen said. Construction sound and beautiful are two words you'd never hear in a sentence. 

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Inquisitive Olsen posted about the strange sounds on Nextdoor, a social media platform for neighbors to interact with each other, and said, "A lot of people said, ‘It’s aliens!'” she told KSLTV. One neighbor joking about Olsen's speculation of B major said, "Oh, that was my band practicing, it was supposed to be a 'minor 7th'. I guess we blew it." While another agreeing with Olsen about hearing the sounds said that they "heard the tune coming from their toilet." However, Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities cleared the confusion and said, "It wasn't aliens! the noise is coming from a Sewer Rat!" also known as the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool, a sewer technology that’s been used since 2015.

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(KSLTV video screengrab)
Sounds were coming from a Sewer Assessment Tool used to maintain clean pipelines (KSLTV video screengrab)

Director Laura Briefer told the outlet, “We deploy tones to the sewer line in order to identify whether there are any blockages in the system we can clean out,” “One will emit the tone and the receiver will listen for the tone,” wastewater collections manager Steve Terry said. “The receiver, as it listens for this tone to come through, then it will assign it a score as far as how open and unobstructed the pipe is. If there is a change in the volume it indicates there’s some sort of blockage or cleaning to be done." She said, "The Sewer Rat gives each sewer line a rating and number score. Things like flushable wipes can clog our sewer lines along with things like fats, oil, and grease.” 

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The technology keeps the workers out of confined spaces, away from waste, and is environment-friendly. “We greatly reduce the amount of water and energy needed in order to do a traditional water line assessment,” said Briefer. Olsen says she finds the sound pleasing to her ears and says she has a question about the sound used in the technology. “I thought, that’s very earthy work and they’ve made it into something ethereal and beautiful." She asked, “Why did they choose an augmented chord? Does it have more push, does it have more power?" Residents can always report the sounds that they hear to the department, Briefer said. “Often times the work we do is out of sight and out of mind, and I don’t think people really realize how much is going on behind the scenes and underground,” she said.

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