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


SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH: Neighbors who live in downtown Salt Lake City are in an uproar by music phenomena amid construction in the neighborhood. Citizens were confused by the music coming out of the sewers and speculated that it was caused by extraterrestrial beings after being unable to deal with the noise from the construction site.

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Downtown resident and musician Rosemary, who lives a block east of State Street, said she repeatedly heard a B-flat chord outside her window during construction and called the sound beautiful. “Just really scary, but it was beautiful,” said Olsen. Construction noise and beauty are two words you would never hear in one sentence.

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The curious Olsen wrote about the strange noises on Nextdoor, a social media platform that allows neighbors to interact with each other, and said, “A lot of people were like, ‘Those are aliens!'” she told KSLTV. A neighbor joked about Olsen’s speculation about B Major saying, “Oh that was my band practice, it was supposed to be a ‘minor 7’. I guess we screwed it up.” While another agreed with Olsen about hearing the noises, said he said they “heard the tune coming from their toilet.” However, the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities cleared up the confusion, saying, “It wasn’t aliens! the sound is coming from a sewer rat!”, also known as the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool, a channel technology used since 2015.

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(Screengrab of the KSLTV video)
Sounds came from a Sewer Assessment Tool used to maintain clean pipelines (KSLTV video screengrab)

Director Laura Briefer told the outlet, “We use tones on the sewer line to determine if there are any clogs in the system that we can clear.” “One emits the tone and the receiver listens to the tone,” Sewage said collections manager Steve Terry. “If the receiver listens to that tone, they will assign it a score as far as how open and unobstructed the pipe is. If the volume changes, it indicates some kind of clog or cleaning.” She said, “The sewer rat gives each sewer a rating and a numerical value. Things like flushable wipes can clog our drains along with things like grease, oil and grease.”

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The technology keeps workers out of confined spaces and waste and is environmentally friendly. “We are significantly reducing the amount of water and energy required for a traditional water line assessment,” Briefer said. 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 this is a very earthy work and they made something ethereal and beautiful out of it.” She asked, “Why did they choose an extended chord? Does he have more pressure, does he have more strength?” Residents can always report the sounds they hear to the department, Briefer said. “A lot of times our work 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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