Dig or Drain? Silver Lake council supports looking into draining reservoir to complete pipeline project*

Will the DWP dig up more than a mile of West Silver Lake Drive to install a new water pipeline or will it drain the 800-million Silver Lake Reservoir for 18 months to complete the same project? On Wednesday night, the governing board of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council voted in favor of backing the Department of Water and Power as the agency studies the feasibility of draining the reservoir to complete the pipeline, a plan that would create an eyesore for many months but would minimize the impact of construction on nearby residents, according to proponents. The issue, first reported by The Eastsider last month, has divided residents, with many emphatically opposed to draining the landmark reservoir even on a temporary basis.

Council member Michael Masterson* emphasized that the motion adopted Wednesday night does not mean the council favors draining the reservoir over digging up West Silver Lake Drive. Instead,  the council wanted to show its support for the DWP’s decision to explore the possibility of draining the water and installing a mile-long, 66-inch diameter pipeline along the bottom of the reservoir.

“We have asked the DWP to explore all options,” Masterson said. “There maybe some other downsides [to draining] that we don’t even know about yet,

The motion, which passed with the support of a dozen council members,  summarized the benefits of this option:

By locating the bypass tunnel inside the Reservoir area itself, the LADWP will be able to mitigate the particulate matter that is released throughout the neighborhood by open trench tunneling which is a health hazard. The regulator station would be located inside the Reservoir property and therefore the “grassy knoll” and its trees would not be impacted. Plan 4 could also potentially save the ratepayers over $20 million.

The DWP, which made a presentation on the topic at Wednesday’s night council meeting, continues to study the option of installing the pipeline at the bottom of the reservoir. But no decision has been made and the agency would have to amend an environmental impact report if that was the case.

Even if the DWP decided to drain the reservoir, the motion noted that about 1,500 feet of West Silver Lake Drive would still have to be dug up to lay a pipeline that would then turn into the bed of the reservoir just south of the dam that divided the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs.

* Correction: A previous story quoted a Steve Matterson. That’s wrong. Masterson’s first name is Michael.  Also, the story quoted from a neighborhood council motion that made reference to Plan 3.  It should have made reference to Plan 4.


  1. NO! Dig.

    I understand it will be a serious inconvenience for the entire street to be dug up now. But you have to think ahead. If you put that under the reservoir instead, then any time it needs maintenance, the entire reservoir will have to be drained again and again!

    And it will definitely need maintenance from time to time. If it is under the street, only the one spot that is broken or needs work will have to be dug, not an entire reservoir drained and not the entire street dug up again, just the one spot!

    Think, people, think. Think beyond the immediate moment.

    Besides, you will not like the inevitable stench from draining the reservoir, and you will be complaining about dust in the air.

    • You make a really good point about maintenance. I wonder if they have considered that.

      • Yes, maintenance and access were raised as issues with DWP. DWP stated that part of the additional investigation is whether or not the pipe can be laid in a concrete tunnel on top of the lake bed or whether it needs to be under the lake bed. The DWP Rep said that if it’s in a tunnel, they lake would not need to be drained for maintenance in the future but that repairs could be done from within the tunnel (a la pipeline repairs). Another potential benefit would be the relocation of a massive regulator that could be placed adjacent to the lake instead of near the recreation center. In addition, construction could be done progressively instead of having to go back and forth between locations. For instance, they could completely finish on W. Silver Lake Drive and move on vs. having to dig up W. Silver Lake Drive once, move to the Rec Center and go back to W. Silver Lake Drive for connections over the course of 2 years. In the end the motion approved by the council simply asks DWP to continue to investigate and come back with findings.

  2. This is unfair. The meeting that was held by the SLNC to discuss this issue was not adequately announced to the Silver Lake community. Therefore, the attendance at the meeting was not representative of a significant sampling of the community.

    • Then, Vicky, why don’t you get on the SLNC’s email list, so you know about this stuff ahead of time? If you really care about happenings in the community, how do you expect to know what’s going on? By reading stuff in the paper or online after it’s happened??

  3. What about tunneling under it like they did the English Channel for the Chunnel? Might be more expensive but we could just hire the guys that dig those drug tunnels under the border. That last one they found was estimated to have cost just $2 mil.

  4. Ladies of Silveralkes!

    I have a solution I think will satisfy! Quiet your mind and prepare your lips for the sweet winds of change…

    Jack up the reservoir and lay some pipe. Maybe afterwards keep the suspended solution in the air – like a water deck. A patio that is a reservoir, that has pipes under it.

    This is true feasibility with out all the compromise.

  5. Good luck on selling your house during the draining of the reservoir…

  6. Hey Silver Lake,

    By the time they get around to draining your lake, you can come over and slum it at our brand new lake (opening Spring ’13)!

    Echo Park

  7. Hey Vickie, how can you complain about not know about the SLNC meeting to discuss this, check your social media device and see it was stated there and on SLNC website ! Don’t just complaint about not adequalty hearing about the meeting, if you were truly involved in your community you would of know.

  8. There is a rumor that the the narrowing of the traffic lanes on Rowena, thus squeezing off traffic in the Glendale-Rowena corridor, is being proposed as partial “compensation” to the neighborhood powers that be for agreeing to drain the lake. I mention again that people involved in the “bicycle community” hold influential positions in the SLNC which may challenge their impartiality.

    • I would think this rumor is false. There has been talk of a “road diet,” but that has to do with pedestrians getting killed on Rowena, not “compensation” for possibly an empty lake for 18 months. The pipeline under the lake is only under study right now, anyway.

      • Z, please investigate further. You will find that the “road diet” was being propagandized long before the unfortunate accidents resulting in pedestrian deaths. There is a group of retailers, restauranteurs and people connected with various bicycle interests who want to limit automobiles the free access to which we are accustomed despite the increased density of the area and increase in drivers. This group, many with ties to the entertainment industry, is amply represented in the SLNC and refer to themselves as the “squeaky wheels.” They have a vision for the future of the community that favors the more entrenched high end property owners who are not particularly concerned with the lives of those who have to drive to and from their jobs, shop at the markets after work and often must park on the streets. This “class warfare” has increased as more newcomers moved into the neighborhood. We cannot allow them to be awarded their coveted “road diet” trophy!

    • So vote for the other guys next time… there’s no conspiracy, just elected reps and stakeholders that share a different vision for the neighborhood.

      Bottom line is city streets can be engineered to safely accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and cars, it’s just a matter of allocating a modicum of public space to other modes of travel.

      • And why not study both options for the DWP project? If draining the lake is cheaper, less of an impact on the roads and air quality, saves a few mature trees, and can be done in less time, than I think a lot of people in the community would agree it’s the way to go. They can always refill the lake, and maybe they’ll have to put a couple ponds for the wildlife like they did at Echo Park.

        Will I miss the view, sure, but I imagine we’ll still have access to the jogging path, the dog park, the meadow and the rec area. And the sooner they finish up, the sooner they can tear down that ugly barb wire fence and convert the whole thing into a public park / nature reserve.

        • The two issues should be considered separately and not dependent on one another. I happen to be against the road-diet for the particular Rowen-Glendale Bl. stretch. I believe it will strangle the traffic and cause more congestion. I had no problems with the changes made on Silver Lake Bl. or Griffith Park Bl. so as to add bike lanes with I happen to use. Others believe differently and I do not accuse people with shared interests and preferences of being conspirators. Everyone know who they are and are aware of the economic alliances involved.

          The issue of whether to drain the lake should be considered separately. The community can decide which is the lesser evil.

          What I am concerned is the quid pro quo currently being discussed in a non public manner between the DWP and some members of the SLNC. The members are offering to “deliver” the vote for the draining of the lake in exchange for the reducing Rowena-Glendale Blvds. from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction. I would like the community to be aware of this ongoing backroom discussion and hope that they will find it reprehensible. The two issues should not be linked.

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