May 25, 2019 from 10:00 AM–1:00 PM

Sci-Fi Sewage Sanctuary

Hosted by Atlas Obscura

Tour a water recycling plant better known as Starfleet Academy, and the Japanese garden it irrigates with sewage water.

Help us celebrate Infrastructure Week 2019 with one of our favorite events!

Everybody goes potty, and in a sprawling metropolis as big as Los Angeles, all that toilet water has to go somewhere. So why not in a garden?

Join Field Agent Benjamin Harmon on an epic voyage to a wastewater treatment plant in Van Nuys, whose recycled water reaches its final frontier at either the Hyperion Treatment Plant in Playa Del Rey, or next door in its own Japanese Garden. The Garden is aptly referred to as the “garden of water and fragrance,” and is irrigated with reclaimed water from the plant.

One of the leading producers of reclaimed water in the San Fernando Valley, the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant recycles as much as 27 million gallons of sewage water per day. Although few get to tour its sprawling campus, many recognize its futuristic Administration Building as a shooting location for numerous films and television shows, including Star Trek‘s Starfleet Academy.

On our private tour of the treatment facility, the knowledgeable Michael Ruiz, Chief Plant Operator of the Donald C. Tillman (DCT) Water Reclamation Plant, will show us the plant’s processes. Then, we’ll then go out into the field to see these processes in action, including a trip through the underground pipe galleys.

Afterwards, we’ll embark on an exclusive guided tour through the 6.5-acre garden designed by world-famous designer Dr. Koichi Kawara, where we’ll witness the 2.75-acre lake that is filled with the plant’s treated water. The tour will be led by Japanese Garden board member Michael Fritzen, whose credits include work with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Zoo, Autry Museum, The Huntington, The Skirball Cultural Center, and the Los Angeles Puppet Festival.


  • We will be supplied with hard hats to wear, which are required for the plant tour.
  • This is an active plant with lots of working machinery with moving parts, open containers, sights and smells. Please be careful, and please no touching!
  • Please wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for at least two hours of walking, standing, and climbing up and down stairs.
  • A liability waiver is required for this event.


  • Please arrive early for parking and check-in. We must begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. Those who do not arrive on time may forfeit their tickets.
  • A portion of our tour will be outside, so please wear sun protection (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen).
  • Unfortunately, this facility is not handicap accessible.


Email Benjamin Harmon at

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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.