Treated With Respect

When people think of San Fernando Valley landmarks, they generally come up with Universal City, Hansen Dam, even the Sherman Oaks Galleria.

But a sewage reclamation plant?

This week, when the Valley Development Forum handed out its outstanding achievement awards to businesses and projects that enhanced the area’s business climate, one went to the Donald C. Tillman Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys.

The plant was honored along with the Encino Marketplace, the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and Disney’s animation building.


While the plant itself was described as very modern and efficient, the most appealing traits cited were its environs, such as the adjacent Japanese Gardens and Lake Balboa, which is filled with reclaimed water.

“The Tillman reclamation plant is the envy of cities across the nation,” said Fred Gaines, president of the Valley Development Forum.

Delwin Biagi, director of the Bureau of Sanitation, accepted the award, saying simply: “Thank you for honoring your trash people.”

For those still skeptical that the facility ranks among other great landmarks, Biagi noted that the Japanese Gardens have about 1,000 visitors annually. What’s more, he said, about 200 couples have been married in the gardens.

Biagi neglected to add another feature: The gardens flourish with fertilizer made from lawn trimmings and processed sewage.