Sewage spills

sewage spill illustration
Credit: Illustration by Cecily Mireles

Spills from sewage treatment plants and sewer lines contaminate surface waters with viruses, bacteria and other contaminants from wastewater that is flushed down drains and toilets.

For instance, flooding at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in El Segundo in the summer of 2021 spilled 17 million gallons of sewage into Santa Monica Bay, contaminating beaches. But the spill also triggered water supply problems because local officials had to divert clean drinking water to uses, such as parks and golf courses, that were normally served by the recycled water treated at the Hyperion plant.