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Treated Sewage to Be Dumped Out Just One Mile From Los Angeles Beaches For a Bit

Swimmers in Manhattan Beach might want to think twice before getting in the water next month—there may be a little more sewage in the ocean than they're accustomed to. Every day in Los Angeles, more than 230 million gallons of water from sinks and toilets is treated by the Hyperion Treatment Plant in Playa Del Rey and pumped far offshore into the sea. But now, with repairs on the plant's outfall pipe scheduled for later this month, that wastewater will be dumped out much closer to the beach, says Heal the Bay.

Water treated at the Hyperion plant goes through two out of three available cleaning processes which sift out much of the gross stuff but still leave the water just short of drinkable. What's left in the wastewater (fecal pathogens, ammonia, chlorine) is ultimately diluted when it is pumped out five miles into a deep portion of the Pacific Ocean.

Starting September 21, though, LA Sanitation will begin necessary repairs on their outfall pipe, and instead will have Hyperion discharge its wastewater though an emergency pipe located just one mile from the southern end of Dockweiler State Beach. The repairs are expected to last into November.

Heal the Bay is concerned that releasing the partially treated water closer to the shore, in far shallower waters, will inhibit the dispersal of toxins and could have environmental impacts on marine life in the area. Increases in nutrient rich wastewater can increase harmful algae blooms and chlorine from the cleansing process can be detrimental to aquatic life.

Unfortunately these repairs are absolutely necessary. A new pump for the outfall pipe has been needed since 2006, and not repairing it now could lead to a catastrophic sewage overflow. Heal the Bay recognizes the need for the repairs, but hopes for transparency in LA Sanitation's reports on water quality in the area. Anybody who wishes to speak their piece about sewage can do so at the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting on September 10.

While the dangers of this water dumping may be speculative, Heal the Bay is also using this opportunity to discuss the necessity of dumping the water in the first place. 230 million gallons a day is a hell of a lot of water to be dumping in the ocean for a city that's perpetually relying on imported water sources to feed its growing population. Water agencies in the OC have already stepped up their water processing to reclaim more wastewater. —Jeff Wattenhofer
EPP Header Replacement Project
[LA Sanitation]