By BARRY LANK
SILVER LAKE – The now empty Silver Lake Reservoir should start refilling next spring.
Marty Adams, director of Water Operations at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, delivered this estimate to a standing-room-only town hall at Micheltorena Street Elementary School Thursday night.
“We are committed to putting water back in the reservoir,” Adams said. He said the refill should begin around May. But questions remained as to where exactly the water will come from — recycled and ground water are potential sources — and how much of the reservoir will be refilled.
This was the first of three town halls scheduled to discuss the future of the reservoir now that it’s been drained to build a new pipeline and no longer be part of the city’s potable water system.While future meetings will delve into more longterm and possibly contentions plans for the Silver Lake landmark, Thursday’s focused exclusively on the short-term issue at hand – when and how the the reservoir will be refilled in an era of drought.
City officials and administrators from the LADWP came to say they would refill it. Members of the public came to make sure they did just that.
“What the fear is, is that the longer the reservoir remains empty, or whatever infrastructure has to be built, the higher the likelihood that the city or someone will change their mind and the reservoir will get repurposed,” said Jerome Courshon, vice chair of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, during the public comment section of the evening.
Other public commenters simply wanted their old neighborhood back.
“Silver Lake Reservoir is the heart and soul of this community,” said Nicole Tracy.
Adams also said the black shade balls would be removed from the surface of the neighboring Ivanhoe Reservoir once the pipe construction project is completed — some time at the end of 2016 or early 2017. He can then honor the many requests he’s received to take some of the balls as souvenirs or art materials, he said.
“Three-point-two million balls out there – you can have as many as you want,” Adams said.
The reservoir was drained last year to construct a pipeline along the reservoir bed as part of a much larger water-quality improvement project. The original plan had been to refill the reservoir from the same potable sources as before.
But with California’s drought, Adams outlined the pros and cons Thursday for various non-potable sources, including rain water, recycled (treated) water, and the L.A. River.
Another open question is how high the reservoir might be refilled. The surface used to range between 440 to 450 feet above sea level. But with the reservoir no longer being used for drinking water, officials may refill it to a certain point, then decide how much further they want to go, Adams said.
Despite the size of the audience Thursday, this may be the easiest of the three town halls on the reservoir. City Council member Mitch O’Farrell, District 13, said the next two would focus on longer term issues — for example, whether to turn the reservoir into a park. On this, there has been much less public agreement — as demonstrated near the very end of the meeting when shouting finally broke out in the audience.
Referring to the second meeting, coming up, Council Member David Ryu, District 4, said, “I’m sure number two is going to be really exciting.”
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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