AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2The tour started off at the San Jose Creek Reclamation Plant where visitors learned how wastewater from toilets, washing machines, sinks and showers is recycled back into the environment. An eight- to 10-hour process cleans water by removing solids, followed by biodegrading organic materials and filtering. The water is then disinfected, and distributed either back into rivers or other facilities in the greater Los Angeles area for irrigation. Solids separated from the water are turned into fertilizer. The process transforms water from murky to crystal clear, and, according to tour guide Martha Rincon, its cleanliness exceeds drinking-water standards. But water may have been the only thing getting clean. Who knew waste could wow? Some people spend the weekends relaxing. Others, like 50 Valley residents, spent Saturday morning on a trash tour. San Jose Creek Reclamation Plant and the Puente Hills Landfill in unincorporated Whittier gave an inside look to what really happens to garbage. “I was very impressed with the tour and how knowledgable the guides are,” said Temple City resident Wanda Wessel. “It not easy to field questions and explain everything in simple terms that we all can understand.” Once the visit to the plant ended, things really got down and dirty. A bus drove the group to the top of the landfill, where trash piled high and smells grew pungent. “Sometimes people don’t smell anything,” said tour guide Margott Hinostroza. “But today, because of the humidity, you can.” Hinostroza explained how trash is sorted, then piled up about 10 feet and blanketed with a 2-foot mixture of dirt and green waste made from shredded tree branches and grass. A few more stops displayed how pipes removed methane gas produced from the decomposing waste underground and how plastic, cardboard and paper were recycled in the Materials Recovery Facility. Handling one-third of Los Angeles County’s waste, the landfill is almost at full capacity and is expected to close in 2013, Hinostroza said. Because of this, rates are slowly increasing and are expected to rise to fund a new disposing process called waste by rail. In the new procedure, trains will transport trash to a different facility: the Mesquite Regional Landfill in Imperial County. Puente Hills Landfill itself, however, plans to clean up. According to Hinostroza, once the the site is filled, it will be turned into a park. With the future of the landfill set, Whittier resident Richard Steele said rising rates are inevitable. “It’s a reality we all just have to face,” he said. But others think the problem lies more within us – the trash-producing source. “If we were more caring people, we wouldn’t have to worry about disposing so much waste,” said Whittier resident Lyn Yeomans. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2471160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!