LA’s shit may not be that pretty but the facility that cleans it up sure is.

It was almost like taking the Universal Studios Tram Tour, only there were no celebrities and it smelled like shit.

It was almost like taking the Universal Studios tram tour, only there were no celebrities and it smelled like shit.

Our tour guide Nancy loved to talk shit.

Our tour guide Nancy loved to talk shit.

Environmental Learning Center giving me side eye.

The Environmental Learning Center Building is LEED Gold certified.

The ELC, which was just completed last year, is all about interactivity. This interactive game determines which team is better at sorting out the recyclables into the proper colored bins.

The ELC, which was just completed last year, is all about interactivity. This interactive game determines which team is better at sorting out the recyclables into the proper colored bins.

Inside the ELC

ELC Exibit

Shit truck facility operations center.

Shit truck facility operations center.

Truck loading is a crucial step in the transport of biosolids to beneficial use sites. The building must be buttoned up as much as possible to prevent odors from escaping into the surrounding environment. Hyperion’s current truck loading facility will soon be replaced to maximize the performance of this facility.

Truck loading is a crucial step in the transport of biosolids to beneficial use sites. The building must be buttoned up as much as possible to prevent odors from escaping into the surrounding environment. Hyperion’s current truck loading facility will soon be replaced to maximize the performance of this facility.

Digestion Heaven

Digestion Heaven

The egg shape is particularly efficient for the digestion process and creating a large capacity on a small footprint. Bacteria living in this warm, oxygen-free space digest the solids. The bacteria, along with the heat, destroy virtually all pathogens and releases a biogas (methane) that is recovered as an energy resource. The biosolids that are processed here are considered Exceptional Quality, which is a pathogen-free Class A organic product, suitable for many landscaping and agricultural applications.

The egg shape is particularly efficient for the digestion process and creating a large capacity on a small footprint. Bacteria living in this warm, oxygen-free space digest the solids. The bacteria, along with the heat, destroy virtually all pathogens and releases a biogas (methane) that is recovered as an energy resource. The biosolids that are processed here are considered Exceptional Quality, which is a pathogen-free Class A organic product, suitable for many landscaping and agricultural applications.

Keep'n it colorful.

Keep’n it colorful.

Four major sewer lines carry a river of wastewater to Hyperion for treatment from homes and businesses throughout much of Los Angeles and 29 contracting cities. On an average day without rain, about 350 million gallons flow into the plant. That would fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. On rainy days the volumes get much larger. The plant can treat up to 1000 million gallons per day. These sewers are some of the largest in the wastewater system world – over eight feet in diameter.

Four major sewer lines carry a river of wastewater to Hyperion for treatment from homes and businesses throughout much of Los Angeles and 29 contracting cities. On an average day without rain, about 350 million gallons flow into the plant. That would fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. On rainy days the volumes get much larger. The plant can treat up to 1000 million gallons per day. These sewers are some of the largest in the wastewater system world – over eight feet in diameter.

Welcome to Headworks - Anything and everything is found in sewage. At the Headworks, bars and screens remove the largest solids – things as big as branches, plastics, and rags – and as small as sand and other gritty solids. This is called preliminary treatment. After leaving the Headworks, the wastewater continues to move by gravity to primary treatment.

Welcome to Headworks where anything and everything is found in sewage. At the Headworks, bars and screens remove the largest solids – things as big as branches, plastics, and rags – and as small as sand and other gritty solids. This is called preliminary treatment. After leaving the Headworks, the wastewater continues to move by gravity to primary treatment.

The Pooparazzi

The Pooparazzi

Even Headworks manages to have a view.

Even Headworks manages to have a view.

The plant is kind of like industrial porn. We were told the city didn't want it to look like a normal bland facility so they added some modern design elements and a whole lot of color.

The plant is kind of like industrial porn. We were told the city didn’t want it to look like a normal bland facility so they added some modern design elements and a whole lot of color.

Part of the cryogenic air separation facility - At 196 degrees below zero, oxygen liquefies and is separated from the air. About 250 tons of liquid oxygen per day are sent to the reactor tanks in the secondary treatment process to help the bacteria grow.

Part of the cryogenic air separation facility –
At 196 degrees below zero, oxygen liquefies and is separated from the air. About 250 tons of liquid oxygen per day are sent to the reactor tanks in the secondary treatment process to help the bacteria grow.

Partially emptied secondary clarifying tank.

Partially emptied secondary clarifying tank. In the second stage of Biological/ Secondary Treatment, the bacteria are separated from the wastewater during a settling process in clarifiers.

Fan-o-poop

Fan-o-Poop

The burbs of El Segundo are behind that hill.

The burbs of El Segundo are behind that hill.

Modern Treatment

The green sculpture along the wall is made up of recycled highway signs.

The art piece is made up of recycled highway signs.

You’ll often find me on the opposite side of this modern overpass that gives the employees access to beach.

Biogas from the digesters is sent through a pipeline to the City of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power’s Scattergood Steam Power Plant (red & white stacks). There, about 8 million cubic feet of biogas is converted to energy each day. In return, LADWP provides enough electricity to supply Hyperion’s daily needs.

Biogas from the digesters is sent through a pipeline to the City of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power’s Scattergood Steam Power Plant (red & white stacks). There, about 8 million cubic feet of biogas is converted to energy each day. In return, LADWP provides enough electricity to supply Hyperion’s daily needs.

Most of the wastewater that leaves secondary treatment is pumped from the plant into Santa Monica Bay through a five-mile long blue pipe (outfall) at a depth of 190 feet. The effluent more than meets all federal and State clean water standards, and is compatible with Bay waters and the creatures that live there.

Most of the wastewater that leaves secondary treatment is pumped from the plant into Santa Monica Bay through a five-mile long blue pipe (outfall) at a depth of 190 feet. The effluent more than meets all federal and State clean water standards, and is compatible with Bay waters and the creatures that live there.

We were lucky to have someone in our group who knew this lovely marine biologist who was nice enough to give us a tour of her department.

We were lucky to have someone in our group who knew this lovely marine biologist who was nice enough to give us a tour of her department.

Just some of the creatures that were snagged during the last trawl, five miles out to sea where the pipe ends. The marine biologists test the treated water once every hour and also occasionally trawl the bottom of the sea floor in order to keep tabs on the health of the sea life.

Just some of the creatures that were snagged during the last trawl, five miles out to sea where the pipe ends. The marine biologists test the treated water once every hour and also occasionally trawl the bottom of the sea floor in order to keep tabs on the health of the sea life.

They keep an aquarium in the office with some of the creatures they've found after trawling. This Decorator Crab [the mossy mess] was my fave. He was giving me side eye.

They keep an aquarium in the office with some of the creatures they’ve found after trawling. This Decorator Crab [the mossy mess] was my fave. He was giving me side eye.

2013 aerial of Hyperion

Free Tours are available by appointment only. To schedule a tour, call (310) 648-5363, or email san.elc@lacity.org.