By Christine Lee
On March 24th, Dr. E’s and Ms. Wheeler’s AP Environmental Science classes took a day-long field trip to the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant located next to Santa Monica Bay.
Students were separated into two big groups. One went on a tour of the treatment plant on a tram, and the other explored ways to conserve, recycle, and reuse through fun games. The groups switched activities afterwards.
On the tour, students had a chance to see the primary process of treating wastewater up close at the plant. A tall machine removes sludge and other waste that cannot be filtered such as diapers, sanitary materials, and plastic bags. After that, the secondary treatment, where bacteria breaks down the organic compounds, takes place. Eventually, in the tertiary treatment, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are broken down chemically. The byproduct of this is used to fertilize plants and gardens.
“I thought it was interesting to see how they can literally take sludge and turn it into clean, drinkable water. The workers and tour guides were all very friendly, too,” commented senior Haley Miller.
After having lunch at the Dockweiler Beach, students had a chance to explore the West Basin Water District, where the filtered water from Hyperion Wastewater Plant goes through another round of intense percolation to be diluted into safe drinking water. At the end of the tour, students were given the chance to actually drink the water that originally came from the wastewater plant. Students also earned “I Heart Recycled Water” pins as souvenirs.
“The field trip to Hyperion Wastewater Plant was really educational in that I could thoroughly see all the water filtering steps. The smell was not pleasant, to be honest, but it was worth it because now I know where my water goes every time I flush the toilet!” commented senior Danika Christensen.
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