By Randy Paige

PLAYA DEL REY ( —If you stand on Dockweiler Beach and look directly across the street, you’ll see the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment plant, operated by the city of Los Angeles.

Every day, 230 million gallons of treated sewage flows from the plant into a pipe that stretches into the Pacific Ocean where it is discharged five miles out to sea.

It’s been operating for more than 60 years, and now some major maintenance needs to be done.

In order to complete the work, the city wants to divert the sewage into a backup pipe that will discharge the treated sewage just 1 mile from the beach.

Traci Minamide, COO of the city’s Sanitation Department, says she hopes to begin diverting the flow to the 1-mile-long pipe later this month. She expects the work to be completed in five to six weeks.

“We’ve done extensive research. We will be chlorinating, and we will also be monitoring the activity during that … period,” said Minamide.

James Alamillo with the nonprofit environmental watchdog group Heal The Bay says the city Sanitation Department has a good environmental track record, but he has concerns about the project.

Heal The Bay is calling for daily monitoring while the sewage is discharged closer to shore to make sure any problems are detected immediately.

The group wants a designated website with information people can understand about bacteria levels along the shoreline, and real-time information about the direction of the plume of treated sewage.

“The devil is in the details,” Alamillo said. “Sometimes, we can’t get the bacterial information until two days after the fact, but we can get current and tidal direction every day almost up to the hour.”

Heal The Bay is expected to take these and other concerns to a public hearing Thursday before the regional water board.

Sanitation officials are hoping to get a final decision before the end of that meeting.


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