Los Angeles, CA

Are L.A. beaches safe after the Hyperion sewage spill?

Deanna Barnert

One Santa Monica Bay beach advisory remains

L.A. beaches are safe in the wake of the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant sewage spill/ Deanna Barnert

(Los Angeles) The Pacific Ocean was hit by 17 million gallons of untreated wastewater after Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant became backed up with debris and spilled over in July. A month after this epic, controlled emergency measure at the city's oldest and largest wastewater treatment facility, the stink of sewage is almost gone in El Segundo and all L.A. and Catalina beaches are back open. There's just one advisory remaining in effect – and it's a major landmark.

“Since the flooding and discharge Sunday, July 11, we have been in full recovery mode and are making significant progress,” a Los Angeles Sanitation representative tells NewsBreak. “Since July 12, only treated wastewater is being released through the five-mile outfall, although the plant is not operating at full efficiency. It should be noted that none of this wastewater reaches the shoreline. We will continue to monitor the water quality at the five-mile outfall and the shore, as well as the air quality on a daily and weekly basis.”

Whether or not there’s a disaster like the Hyperion spill, L.A. County Department of Health keeps tabs on ocean water quality and offers locals easy access to which beaches are safe via a stoplight warning system. Green means, go for it: The water meets state safety standards. Yellow indicates an "Advisory" that bacterial levels exceed state standards and may cause illness. This warning is often put in effect after significant rainfall pushes contaminants into the ocean. And naturally, Red means stop: Due to sewage contamination or other health issues, beachgoers should avoid all contact with ocean water in the closure area and where closure signs are posted. No matter the conditions, it is always safest to avoid water near flowing creeks and storm drains.


As reflected in the above L.A. County Beach Water Quality Testing map at press time, L.A. beaches are primarily Green, which is reason to celebrate. There is, however, one standout Yellow Advisory, and that’s the water around the Santa Monica Pier. That means the beach is open, but it’s best to avoid swimming, surfing, and playing in the ocean around our famed tourist attraction.

It bears mention that L.A.'s no stranger to Yellow Advisories – especially in the areas closest to the city and marina. Locals going in the waters around Santa Monica Pier or Marina del Rey's Mother's Beach, for example, would always be wise to check the quality before heading out on your adventure.

You can get updates as conditions change via the above map or via the county’s 24-hours beach closure hotline: 800)525-5662.

L.A. Sanitation, which has been handling the cleanup at the city’s Hyperion water processing plant under the regulation of numerous federal, state, and regional agencies, has done testing to confirm the Hyperion spill has had no short or long impact on local wildlife or fish.

Perhaps as importantly, a follow-up spill is highly unlikely, with L.A. Sanitation directing concerned locals to visit their website for more information on what happened at Hyperion and how the city plans to mitigate the likelihood of it happening again.

While the "sheer volume of the wastewater/sludge" has been the biggest challenge to L.A. Sanitation's cleanup effort, the big issue facing L.A. now is the plant's reduced efficiency. In the midst of a growing drought, the region's water recycling ability has taken a serious hit, requiring the county to divert millions of gallons of clean drinking water to accommodate.

Reimbursement Program Update

El Segundo residents in this area can apply online for reimbursement of air conditioning units or hotel rooms/LSAN

For El Segundo locals affected directly by the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant spill, The City of Los Angeles created a reimbursement program that covers either new air conditioner unit(s) or hotel, meals, and incidentals.

“The reimbursement program offers relief to residents exposed to the remaining odors at the plant, which are improving every day,” explains NewsBreak's source. “We are extending the program on a weekly basis and will until we have made significant progress in the recovery process, which we anticipate by the end of [August].”

You can still apply for reimbursement if you purchased air conditioner unit(s) or hotel rooms on or after July 12 through the end of the program. You can find FAQs and links to file an online application here.

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Deanna Barnert is a Los Angeles native and entertainment journalist with thousands of news stories, features and profiles published internationally. A member of the Television Critics Association, she’s written for "Emmy" magazine, MSN.com and SheKnows.com, served as News Editor for "Soaps In Depth," and interviewed some of your favorite stars and creators. A true Angeleno, Deanna knows L.A. is the best place to live... and the worst! She made her hometown more accessible to newcomers via her contribution to "The Complete Resident’s Guide to Los Angeles" and its pocket mini, "The Essential Tourist Guide" -- and now she's doing it for NewsBreak! Deanna is an avid traveler who lived in Madrid, Spain, for two years and did some time in NYC, but she always comes home. Check out what Deanna’s doing now by following @TVDeeva on social media.

Los Angeles, CA

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