By BARRY LANK
SILVER LAKE — Some residents are starting to wonder when the water will ever come back to the Silver Lake Reservoir. But, as of now, the L.A. Department of Water and Power doesn’t have an answer.
“The delay refilling is based on the drought,” said Anne Marie Johnson, a candidate for neighborhood council on the Silver Lake United slate, which lists refilling the reservoir as one of its platform causes. “But they knew there was a drought when they drained it.”
When they drained it, yes — but not when they planned it.
The water was drained last year to allow the construction of a water pipeline across the bed of the reservoir, as part of a much larger water-quality improvement project. The LADWP had originally planned to refill the reservoir in about 12 months with about 400 million gallons of drinking water. But the final Environmental Impact Report for the project was filed in May 2006, before the drought took hold, according to Amanda Parsons, the media relations manager for the LADWP.
By 2014, however – a year before the city began “drinking down” the reservoir – the drought was fully upon us, and a report from the DWP mentioned using non-potable water instead. Conservation mandates from Gov. Jerry Brown and Mayor Eric Garcetti meant that drinking water is out, Parsons said.
So if we can’t fill the “reservoir” with drinking water, where will the water come from? Possibly the L.A. River, maybe recycled water, perhaps storm water, possibly some other source — and that won’t work without designing and building additional infrastructure, Parsons said.
As a result, two years after the report acknowledged the need for new water source, the city still is not quite sure what that source is. And although a LADWP report last February indicates construction should end by early next year, the LADWP gives no date for when – or how much – the water ever comes back.
“The timing for the refill and water sources that will be used are currently being determined,” Parsons said.
In his weekly email, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell noted one side effect of the continued drainage and construction: The community has a chance to rethink what to do with the reservoir. This is, in fact, already turning up the volume of online arguments.
“The community is now left with a blank canvass,” O’Farrell said, “an opportunity to re-envision the reservoir, dream big, and think of ways to repurpose the area.”
Barry Lank grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, then went away for a seriously long time. He has worked in TV and radio, and currently helps produce The Final Edition Radio Hour.
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