Hyperion sewage treatment plant

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The Hyperion Treatment Plant from the air.
Detail of one of the plant buildings designed by Anthony J Lumsden, FAIA.

The Hyperion Treatment Plant is located in southwest Los Angeles, California, next to Dockweiler State Beach on Santa Monica Bay. The largest sewage treatment facility in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, Hyperion is operated by the City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation.


Until 1925, raw sewage from the city of Los Angeles was discharged untreated directly into Santa Monica Bay in the region of today's Hyperion Treatment Plant.[1]

With the population increase, the amount of sewage became a major problem to the beaches, so in 1925 the city of Los Angeles built a simple screening plant in the 200 acres (0.81 km2) the city had acquired in 1892.[1]

Even with the screening plant, the quality of the water in Santa Monica Bay was unacceptable, and in 1950 the city of Los Angeles opened the Hyperion Treatment Plant with full secondary treatment processes. In addition, the new plant included capture of biogas from anaerobic digesters to produce heat dried fertilizer.[1]

In order to keep up with the increase of influent wastewater produced by the ever growing city of Los Angeles, by 1957 the plant engineers had cut back treatment levels and increased the discharge of a blend of primary and secondary effluent through a five-mile (8 km) pipe into the ocean. They also opted to halt the production of fertilizers and started discharging digested sludge into the Santa Monica Bay through a seven-mile (11 km) pipe.[1]

Marine life in Santa Monica Bay suffered from the continuous discharge of 25 million pounds of sludge per month. Samples of the ocean floor where sludge had been discharged for 30 years demonstrated that the only living creatures were worms and a hardy species of clam. Additionally, coastal monitoring revealed that bay waters often did not meet quality standards as the result of Hyperion's effluent. These issues resulted in the city entering into a consent decree with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the California State Water Resources Control Board to build major facility upgrades at Hyperion. In 1980, the city launched a massive "sludge-out" project which upgraded the plant to full secondary treatment. Sludge digesters are used to destroy the disease-causing organisms (pathogens).[2] The sludge-out portion of the program was completed in 1987.[citation needed]

The $1.6 billion sludge-out to full secondary construction program replaced nearly every 1950-vintage wastewater processing system at Hyperion while the plant continuously treated 350 million gallons per day (mgd) and met all of its NPDES permit requirements. As of 2016 the plant can treat 450 mgd, with a peak wet weather flow (partial treatment during storms) of 800 mgd.[2]

The West Basin Municipal Water District purchases approximately 37,600 AF, or roughly 9 percent of Hyperion's secondary effluent for treatment at the Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility.

In popular culture[edit]

A number of scenes were filmed inside the plant in early 1968 for the Monkees' film Head. The shots included upstairs and downstairs angles, the use of a crane and an assembly line, and a general walk-through of the main part of the plant with the Monkees and the character actor Charles Macaulay, dubbed "Inspector Shrink" in the movie.

TV detective series Cannon : Season 1, Episode 16 : The Treasure of San Ignacio. ( Originally aired January 11th, 1972. ).

Frank Cannon calls on a retired detective to help him recover stolen religious relics from a Mexican church. In the finale, Cannon tracks down the sole surviving thief to the Hyperion plant ( marked condemned by a sign on the building ) and rescues the priest from the church with the help of the thief's girlfriend & his retired detective friend.

A key scene in the 1973 film Soylent Green was shot at the Hyperion Treatment Plant. It portrayed the factory that cleverly produced the bland yet nutritious "Soylent Green" wafers.

Several key scenes from the 1956 science fiction film Earth vs. the Flying Saucers were shot at the Hyperion Treatment Plant. The plant is used to portray a science laboratory where the characters of the film develop a weapon to use against the unidentified flying objects that have invaded the Earth.

The same area of the plant was also used as the set for several scenes in the film Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.

Used as the filming location for the final scene in the music video for t.A.T.u.'s "White Robe", filmed in October 2007.


  1. ^ a b c d "City of Los Angeles - Dept. Public Works". 
  2. ^ a b "Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant". LA Sanitation. City of Los Angeles, Department of Publish Works. 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Horenstein, B., Hernandez, G., Raspberry, G., Crosse, J. (1990) "Successful dewatering experience at Hyperion wastewater treatment plant", Water Science and Technology, v. 22, p. 183-191
  • Jones-Lepp, T. and Stevens, R. (2007) "Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in biosolids/sewage sludge: the interface between analytical chemistry and regulation", Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry, v. 387, p. 1173–1183

External links[edit]