On January 16-18, AP Environmental Science students went on a field trip to Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, where sewage is treated to be released into the ocean. For weeks before the field trip, APES students had been studying the water cycle and its environmental and political effects. After learning about the practical importance of the water cycle, it was a great experience to see the power plant first hand.
The plant, located near Dockweiler beach, receives sewage from several cities, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. There, a series of intricate steps are taken in order to refine the sludge to a level that meets government standards. Removed items include health and hygiene products, fine and grainy materials, and biosolids that are transported to farms to be made into high quality fertilizers used to grow food for livestock. These processes are generally taken in the biggest, crucial, and smelliest place on the plant, HeadWorks, which was closed during the tour on the day of the field trip due to maintenance maintenance. This was a blessing in disguise for people with weak stomachs.
After touring the plant, the trip continued with a tour inside of the building where diagrams and models visualized how large the processing plant was, how much sewage it manages, and the purpose of other processing plants that are located throughout California.
After the trip, the students were given time to eat lunch on the beach, looking at the ocean that the processed water was dumped into. The thought surely didn’t do well for some appetites, but it was reassuring that the Hyperion plant had such an intricate system that worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in order to keep the waste from negligently being dumped into the ocean as it had been done mere decades ago.