Questions Arise Regarding Reservoir Refill

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The Silver Lake Reservoir in 2012. Photo: Michael Locke.

SILVER LAKE—The former Silver Lake Reservoir is still empty since it was drained last summer to enable construction of a pipeline through it, which will replace the water supply now that the reservoir has been decommissioned.

But some community members have expressed concern that the scheduled January 2017 refill of the lake might be inappropriate after years of drought, or will most likely be delayed because the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (LADWP) has not identified a source for the water.

LADWP officials did not respond to a request for comment on deadline, except to say the “issue is not if” the reservoir will be refilled, but “when.”

Some community members say in the midst of California’s drought, now in its fifth year, and next-to-nothing rainfall from this year’s El Niño, using 400 million gallons of potable water to refill the lake—which was the pre-drought plan—for aesthetic purposes has become an inappropriate course of action.

Others, however, are anxious to bring the lake back to life. Some have suggested transforming a refilled reservoir into “Silver Lake Plunge,” complete with swimming, a sandy shoreline, umbrellas and lap lanes, while others envision making the dam between the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs an esplanade.

Regardless of whether the reservoir gets a new identity, as a public safety issue, it has been a longtime source of water for firefighting helicopters.

Information from the LADWP indicates the agency is now considering possibly refilling the reservoir using water from the Los Angeles River, recycled or storm water.

But any of those solutions, they say, would require construction of a way to deliver that water to the reservoir, which could increase costs and delay refilling.

A meeting on the subject, coordinated by the LADWP, will be held June 30th, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Micheltorena Street Elementary School, 1511 Micheltorena St.

According to Anne Marie Johnson, co-chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council (SLNC), she expects the LADWP to provide a full report on the issue at the meeting, including, she said, providing the community with a completion date of when the reservoir will be filled.

“We expect a thorough report from the DWP and [Los Angeles City] Councilmembers Ryu and O’Farrell,” she said, “regarding the current state of construction, the completion date and the re-filling of the reservoir.”

The Silver Lake Reservoir and its smaller companion, the Ivanhoe Reservoir, were removed from the supply of drinking water for Los Angeles in 2015, which was mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency due to contamination from surface runoff, birds, insects, animals and humans.

The reservoirs are being replaced by two 55-million gallon subterranean reservoirs on the north side of Griffith Park in an area called Headworks.

Water from the new Headworks reservoirs, when completed in 2017, must be routed to the neighborhoods previously supplied by the decommissioned reservoirs. To accomplish this, a pipeline 66 inches in diameter has been constructed below roadways from Headworks through Griffith Park and Silver Lake to be buried in the bottom of the Silver Lake Reservoir, which will eventually allow water from Headworks to reach neighborhoods in south Los Angeles.

Posted June 30 2016 at 6:00 a.m.

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