DWP Tells Silver Lake Residents What They Wanted To Hear: Reservoir to be refilled next spring

Standing-room crowd | Barry Lank

Standing-room crowd | 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.”

Related Links:

Dry reservoir bed |Barry Lank

The now empty Silver Lake Reservoir |Barry Lank

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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  1. Refill the reservoir first! It is really ugly and dusty right now. Whether you turn the areas around the reservoir into more parkland or keep it for wildlife can be decided later.

  2. I wouldn’t call what the DWP presented a plan. It was more like a set of options to accomplish the task. There was less than a commitment when it came to important details like the water level. In the meantime ducks, geese and herons have been replaced by vultures circling overhead,

  3. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    I’ve never seen so many pissed off faces assembled in one room. I’m sure the DWP realizes now that refilling the reservoir isn’t an option even though I’m sure they would rather (and probably had secret plans to) just leave it empty when they are done with their construction work.

  4. Fill it with sand, and turn it into an off-road vehicle park. I’m sure the neighbors would love that.

  5. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    If we are being honest doesn’t it make the most ecological and economic sense to fill it with dirt, plant some trees, and turn it into a proper park? There is so much construction going on in Los Angeles that contractors are having trouble getting rid of the soil they are digging up for foundations and regrading. Let them dump the soil in the empty reservoir and it will be filled in no time.

    I know that is not the same as a water lake but perhaps a compromise could be met by mostly filling the empty reservoir with soil and then building a smaller and shallower decorative lake,

    I know most of the angry people want NO change but sorry folks, change is a part of life even if you are white and well off.

    • Actually the DWP plan to use recycled water combined with runoff from the hills is a pretty good “green” solution. Instead of runoff just flowing down concrete channels and sewers into the ocean it will be captured in the lake and then filtered through biologic means (like the marshy area in Echo Park),

      • Yeah, just use runoff. That way the rez will be filled by never. How’s never? Between no rain and evaporation, I’m not sure where you think the water will come from.

        • The recycled water comes from the filtration plant in Glendale (same water that’s used to water the golf course in Griffith Park) The runoff helps keep the reservoir filled and mitigate evaporation. Most of the pipes and pumps are already in place. It’s not that complicated and helps to maintain the watershed. Seriously why the negativity. This is a win for everyone.

          • I don’t see any reason that we should be using electricity to fill an open space with water that really ought to be public open space.

    • A fantastic example of this is the Sheffield Reservoir in Santa Barbara. It was a plain old reservoir for many years. When it was no longer of use they filled it, and now it’s a beautiful open space. Pictures here: http://www.lotsafunmaps.com/Santa_Barbara/Sheffield_Reservoir_Walk.html

      I grew up in LA and SB. And when I moved back to LA and took a walk around the Silver Lake Reservoir, I could not believe the hype around it. It’s…. uh, not nice.

    • @Bruce Brook Pfeiffer: DWP actually did look at what refilling the reservoir with dirt would mean. (They did some cost/time analysis on this.) Turns out, it would take 8 years of truck trips, 24/7, to do this. It’s not a viable option, much as people think it would/could be.

      Most don’t know this info, but this is directly from DWP.

  6. It could be great if they made it into a wetlands park, sort of like Echo Park. But I know lots of neighbors oppose this – since many bitterly opposed even the small “meadow” area.

    Public land – like the lake – is not the private property of people who live near it.

  7. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    I’ve heard talk about some thinking the reservoir should be turned into a park, but a private access park like Gramercy Park in NYC where only those who live in close proximity and have a key can use it. With how organized, vocal, and prone to be pissed the adjacent neighbors are I don’t see this ever becoming a public access park as much as I and many think it should, and the private access approach might be the best compromise. At least this way those of us who live near but not adjacent would get to look at a nice park and the wildlife would also benefit.

  8. I lol’d at the part about refilling it with rain water?! At that rate it should be filled by….oh…2095?

  9. Fabian o'Phurrel

    Once the DWP completes their Bypass Pipeline project,
    the empty reservoir can be put to immedeate recreational use that wont require any infrastructure investment and will generate substantial income for the city.


  10. Take this to the bank . Silver Lake will never be refilled. This whole draining thing was a scam as there already WAS a 60 inch bypass line in place. It is 60 years old but LADWP water is using with SEVERAL main lines 90 years old or more. Expect this area to be filled in and the location of some mixed use ghettos before the next decade is out . They are just going to wear the locals down with an eyesore for a few years so they will accept ANYTHING to replace it. Our Washington DC bound mayor has already sold ALL of his local area real estate. That should tell you something.

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