Giant swimming pool? An esplanade? Wetlands? Silver Lake ponders the future of its reservoirs


A rendering of the Ivanhoe Esplanade | SLRC

There is no plan – let alone a budget – that spells out what happens after the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs are disconnected from the city’s potable water supply.  But that has not kept residents from coming up with ideas and dreams about what to do next.  Architect Robert Lamb, for example, has proposed reducing the size of reservoirs, creating wetlands and tapping into storm drains to reduce  the use of  increasingly valuable drinking water. Silver Lake resident Catherine Geanuracos made a big splash this week with a concept to turn the Ivanhoe Reservoir, the smaller of the two reservoirs, into a pubic swimming complex.  Today, the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy set up an outdoor display of other possibilities  – How about turning the dam between the two reservoirs into the Ivanhoe Esplanade ?  – dealing with recreation and water conservation.

Conservancy President Craig Collins said the organization, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the reservoirs and surrounding open space,  has not taken a position on any of the ideas. Instead, for now,  the group wants to try and capture the public’s imagination of what’s possible to benefit the neighborhood as well as the entire the city in the form recreation as well as water conservation.

The rendering of the Ivanhoe Esplanade, shown as part of the conservancy’s Silver Lake 2020 effort,  is one of the possibilities.   “It’s an imaginative concept where some people could stroll across [the dam between the two reservoirs] and just really enjoy being between these two bodies of water, however they end up looking,” Collins said.

The other possibilities that Collin’s group wants to draw attention to are less sexy than an esplanade or a giant outdoor swimming complex. They deal with refilling the reservoirs with recycled water and storm run off  and softening or replacing the reservoir’s concrete banks and creating wetlands.

The Department of Water and Power, which operates the reservoirs, has also not indicated what the future holds for the reservoirs. Last year, the agency informed residents it would drain the Silver Lake Reservoir  beginning in  late 2014 or early 2015 for about 12 months to build a new water pipeline on the bed of the reservoir. The reservoirs would be refilled to “historic levels”  after the pipeline is completed, according to an agency official.  But the agency has said nothing beyond that.

The completion of the pipeline project and giant new underground water tanks near Griffith Park will mark the beginning of a new era for the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs, which will no longer be used to store drinking water after more than a century of service.

Visitors to the Silver Lake Meadow view information about what might be next for the reservoirs.


  1. I thought, years ago, after more than a decade of meetings of and by the community – long before the neighborhood councils were even in existence, The Committee To Save Silver Lake’s Reservoirs sponsored the creation of a Silver Lake/Ivanhoe Reservoir Master Plan. What happened to that? Or like everything else prior to and unpopular with Garcetti, did it just get swept away, covered up, forgotten?

    A lot of people worked in all our communities for decades before the neighborhood councils and all that work has been discounted and forgotten. I’m really sick of it.

    • Really? This comment strikes me as a little odd. A simple Google search will direct you to the master plan on the Conservancy’s website. The walking paths and the Meadow are part of that master plan. It’s hardly been forgotten. Hard work and OVERWHELMING support from the community for public space and public access to the Reservoir property have made these things realities. Bravo to these Silver Lake residents who are thinking creatively and conceptually about how the Reservoirs might serve the city’s and the community’s water and public space needs in the future.

    • Re “Jaded”. I’m really sorry you are jaded. The Silver Lake Master Plan’s recommendations from 1999 have been nearly completed. While most Plans are sitting on the shelf, the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservatory and the Council Offices (LaBonge, Garcetti & now O’Farrell) have been implementing all that could be done with limited funds and the continuing changes in the LADWP project.. (Starting with $1.3 million from the State). Thousands use the path around the reservoir. It is nearly complete. (In order of completion W SL Dr, SL BL and Armstrong Up & Over and Tesla). The last piece is the southern end. Tom LaBonge has suggested having it along the top of SL Dam…..great idea). The Meadow Park (while smaller than originally in the Master Plan) is open and an enormous success based on the use by hundreds of people daily. There are more community amenities in the works. The 25+ years of surveys have consistently indicated that the community wants more passive access in a natural setting. The next big hurdle is the future use. Don’t lament, but rejoice in the successes, roll up your sleeves and get involved.

  2. Soccer fields and barbecues.

    • i vote for a multi use complex containing: dirt bike course – RV hookups – a shooting range – communal outdoor open air urinals. that would fit in well with the pool/beach concept. just make sure we do not add any parking or street improvements

  3. Well this is such a Deep Subject,, the self appointed group that worked to keep the Lake open in the last century and did, might of done a better job originally to get it covered like the Rowena Reservoir.

    • What are you talking about? First off, the Rowena reservoir isn’t covered. It’s insanely locked behind a gate, but it’s beautifully landscaped with pathways and waterfalls – but it’s not covered. Not sure why you’re being such a wet blanket when the Master Plan has been implemented to huge success. The community loves the walking paths and the ‘meadow’.

      • Factually speaking, the Rowena Reservoir is covered. What is visible is a water feature installed above the underground structure that houses the drinking water. It is sad that the meandering paths are sequestered behind locked gates.

      • Everybody loves the meadow except the residents whos yards get urinated in daily. Instead of putting in swimming pools… how bout a f’n bathroom!!!!

  4. All the surfers living on the EastSide humbly suggest a wave garden: http://www.wavegarden.com/

    Thank you.

  5. I second the wave garden!!!!

  6. Andrew Freud Sat Nam, just because Rowena is behind a nice fence, doesn’t mean it is any less beautiful, Why do all you feel entitled to tromp upon a lovely setting. Enjoy it for it beauty.

    • No one suggested that it’s less beautiful because it’s behind a fence, except you. Some want to be closer to the beauty and interact with it. It’s the same idea as people going to the edge of the beach to be near the water or going to a park to enjoy an open field or a grassy lawn. If you’re against opening a space or spaces to the public, you can just say so. You don’t have to falsely attribute calling a place “less beautiful” or feeling “entitled” to anyone. Overwhelming public support for and use of the walking paths and Meadow probably indicates that those who tried to keep those spaces closed to the public are the ones with the unfavorable sense of entitlement.

  7. A nice raised esplanade through wetlands and increased greenspace for people would be quite nice. I swim area would be quite disgusting.

    • Well said sean! agreed – lets ENHANCE silverlake – not turn it into raging waters – I thought that was a spoof artificial when i first saw the concept drawings. Not to mention how impractical a major dev project like that is for this area. As it is they had to make tesla 1 way to try to get people (rushing to walk) to stop mowing down pedestrians

  8. The rendering of the Ivanhoe Esplanade looks really nice and more natural. Add walking trails or bike paths for everyone to enjoy. This is probably the better option to serve the community.

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