Silver Lake Reservoir is going down, down, down


SILVER LAKE — What looks like a giant bath tub ring has formed around the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs as the water level has been slowly dropping. Has the L.A. Department of Water & Power begun to drain the reservoirs as part of a pipeline construction project?  No, the agency said it has not been draining the pair of reservoirs. But it also has not been refilling them either.

The remaining water will eventually be drained for about 12 months as part of the construction of a new water pipeline on the bed of the Silver Lake Reservoir.  But work on that project is not expected to begin until late this year or early next year, said Kim Hughes, a spokeswoman for the LADWP.

The agency, however, has also not been replenishing water lost to evaporation, which has resulted in a drop in the water level, said Larry Kaplan with the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy. Hughes confirmed Kaplan’s explanation.

“With a  historic drought, putting in drinking water only to drain it again would be pretty wasteful,” Kaplan said.

The pipeline that will be built across the bed of the reservoir is part of the project to replace the open-air Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs with underground replacement storage tanks – known as  the Headworks Reservoir –  now being constructed  near Griffith Park. The project is designed to meet  meet more stringent federal water quality standards. Once the project is completed, the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs will be refilled and hold non-potable water.

While much of the new pipe will be built on the reservoir bed, about 1,600-feet of the pipeline will also run through Silver Lake Drive between Armstrong Avenue to Tesla and then from Tesla to Hawick Street. The in-road construction is slated to begin spring 2015 and will leave Silver Lake Drive traffic limited to one direction, while Tesla will be used as a detour.

The LADWP has rescheduled a Silver Lake Reservoir Walk,  originally  planned for this past weekend, to Saturday, to Sept. 27.

Lucy Guanuna has reported on a variety of issues, including business, education and social justice movements in her native Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Daily Sundial, L.A. Activist, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.


  1. Makes sense not to keep filling the reservoir with drinking water if they are going to drain it during construction. The reservoir and the area around it is such a great resource for the city. Look at all the people jogging around it and relaxing in the meadow and the recreation center. I hope that they refill it after construction quickly (non-potable water) so that people can continue to enjoy it.

  2. I don’t know what ultimately will become of the historic Ivanhoe and Silver Lake Reservoirs.
    You may think you know.
    You may believe that the DWP and residential stakeholders have engaged in open and honest dialogue for over a decade.
    You may believe that the DWP sincerely values the interests and concerns of residential stakeholders.
    And you may have fallen sway to DWP talking points which appear to provide examples of the extent to which they have listened and accomodated.

    I was once a believer, too. No longer.

    I have lost all faith in DWP’s pretension as an honest partner in deciding the future of Ivanhoe/Silver Lake reservoirs.

    I suspect that DWP and City Hall insiders are moving toward their final vision of Ivanhoe/Silver Lake as surplus property destined to serve the needs of moneyed interests and political ambitions, with as little interference as possible from existing residential stakeholders.

  3. The Los Angeles DWP are good at what they do. Very good. They have moved mountains, dammed valleys and drained prehistoric lakes through thousands of 1 inch service meters of paying customers hundreds of miles away.

    They have been at it for over 100 years, so their capability in planning, engineering and project construction is historical fact.
    The DWP has also perfected an ability to get what they want. They understand how to engage, neutralize and overcome any person, group or force which stands in their way.
    Within the DWP bureaucracy, they have developed and perfected every tactic, every strategy and every maneuver in the arena of civic and political engagement. They draw from a vast playbook and have the time to sustain a public relations battle until victory is won by decision or attrition.

    Following is an example from DWP dirty trickbook:

    (In the above article, the 5th paragraph contains the phrase .”..pipeline that will be built across the bed of the reservoir” which links to a google. doc file )

    – Silver Lake Reservoir Complex Storage Replacement Project published by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power 06/2013

    “…………The Silver Lake Reservoir Complex Bypass Pipeline, as approved

    by the Board in the 2005, consisted of an in-street alignment

    along West Silver Lake Drive and Redesdale Avenue that was to

    be installed via tunneling beneath the roadway. Since that time,

    additional engineering analysis, including extensive geotechnical

    investigations, have revealed the magnitude of the construction

    effort involved with the tunneling approach.”

    With this bold and convenient statement, the DWP implies they were not fully aware of the scope of a tunneling project which they proposed and had approved as part of the Ivanhoe/Silver Lake reservoir replacement plan.
    Meanwhile, this is a moderate tunneling project when compared with the full range of tunneling projects DWP has regularly undertaken over the past century. And it is equivalent to any of the 12-15 sections of tunneling the DWP has been working on for the Connector line replacement which connects via West Silver Lake Drive.

    We can label this as Exhibit 1 of DWP’s use of dishonesty and mumbo-jumbo to present a false choice.
    DWP falsely presents themselves as actively engaged in finding the best alternative and falsely demonstrates their willingness to change course to better meet the needs of the community.
    This is simply one example of the complex charade which the DWP has played for a decade to win the trust and confidence of the community while slowly lulling them into a state of inactivity and inattentiveness.

    You residents of Silver Lake have swallowed the DWP bait which causes slow paralysis. You think the DWP and the City Councilman and the Mayor are your trusted friends looking out for you in deciding the future of Ivanhoe/Silver Lake reservoirs.
    Maybe you should think again.
    Think “Chavez Ravine”.

    • I would be happy to be proven wrong. I would look forward to the day when decency would compel my apology to the DWP after they have shown they do not operate on the basis of dishonesty.
      The DWP should find that redeeming their honor entails only a simple and straight forward task. All that need be done is for the DWP provide access to all reports completed from 1985 – 2005 which contain any engineering analysis or geotechnical investigation related to tunneling or pipe replacement/restoration along West Silver Lake Drive/Redesdale Avenue.
      The DWP also needs to provide the reports completed after the 2005 date of approval of The Silver Lake Reservoir Bypass Pipeline which contain the new engineering analysis and geotechnical investigations which so radically changed their understanding of tunneling and/or pipe replacement/restoration along West Silver Lake Drive/Redesdale Avenue.
      We await DWP providing these reports and proving as accurate their claim regarding post 2005 engineering analysis and geotechnical investigations of tunneling along West Silver Lake Drive/Redesdale Avenue.
      Until that time, its reasonable to suspect that the entire 10plus years of community meetings, communications, proposals, alternative plan presentations, decisions, inquiries and responses by the DWP regarding Silver Lake/Ivanhoe Reservoirs has been an exercise in deceit.

  4. I think the story makes a mistake with the reference to the 2 Reservoirs being refilled with non-potable water. Albeit, the water will no longer be retained for drinking water, There are no purple lines currently in the area, so in fact, they would need to be filled with potable water, just not maintained to drinking water standards…..There are of course a lot if “IFS” in this situation. IF the drought miraculously ends etc……


    • What you have logically determined as a mistake may also be viewed in another way – as an announcement of the simple and ugly truth:
      the time is drawing near for the official unveiling of the dead end for the Silver Lake/Ivanhoe Reservoirs.
      The dead end for Silver Lake/Ivanhoe summarizes the hidden agenda behind 10 years of staged communication/involvement with residential stakeholders by DWP.
      The promise was to maintain the reservoirs as holding water.
      DWP now has switched out “water” for “non-potable water”.
      Edina, as you have correctly pointed out – the DWP has not identified any source of “non-potable water” and, most importantly, the DWP has not specified the means or method of delivering “non-potable water” into Silver Lake/Ivanhoe Reservoir.
      Therefore, the statement that Silver Lake/Ivanhoe will be filled with “non-potable water” can be translated as:
      Silver Lake/Ivanhoe Reservoirs will not be refilled.

      • The only way the reservoirs should be refilled is if the “residential stakeholders” pay for it themselves. They should levy a special tax on all residents who surround the reservoirs. Let them pay for the tremendous waste of water.

        A better idea? Fill in the reservoir and make a public park in the space.

  5. Behind ten years of staged communication/involvement with residential stakeholders by the DWP lies their hidden agenda – to create a dead end for the Silver Lake/Ivanhoe Reservoirs.
    The DWP had promised that Silver Lake/Ivanhoe would eventually be refilled and maintained as holding water.
    The DWP now states that Silver Lake/Ivanhoe Reservoir will be refilled with “non-potable water”.
    That sounds like an acceptable alternative,
    until an acknowledgement that DWP has spent the last several years actively precluding the establishment of any channel by which “non-potable water” can be delivered into Silver Lake/Ivanhoe.
    During this time. DWP has been engaged in replacement of several miles of old trunk line pipe which carries water from their aqueduct source into Silver Lake/Ivanhoe and other destinations along their storage and distribution network.
    A portion of the trunk line pipe replacement lies adjacent to the Los Angeles River. The Los Angeles River is a source of “non-potable” storm drain water.
    DWP could have installed an auxilliary pipe for non-potable water riding alongside the new sections of trunk line pipe. If there was any proposal and approval in the future for collection of storm water running through the L.A. River, the pipe for delivering it to Silver lake/Ivanhoe would already be in place. The DWP has ensured that it is not.
    There is a facility located in the San Fernando Valley at the Sepulveda Flood Control grounds which receives and processes water from residential/commercial users. If there was a future proposal to deliver reclaimed water from the Tillman facility into Silver Lake/Ivanhoe, then the terminal portion of the route would already be in place. The DWP has ensured that it is not.
    In fact, whether or not DWP has been actively replacing old trunk line pipe, any future supply of non-potable water anticipated for use in Silver Lake/Ivanhoe most likely derives its source either adjacent to or North/NorthWest of the route taken by the newly replaced pipe.
    That includes supplies from either of the two main sources of “non-potable water” – storm run-off or reclaimed water from residential/industrial users.
    The DWP has ensured that a golden opportunity to hard pipe a dedicated conduit for delivering non-potable water to Silver Lake/Ivanhoe from most likely future sources has been precluded, squandered, WASTED!

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *