Silver Lake Reservoir to be refilled ahead of schedule [update]

Emptied Silver Lake Reservoir | Courtesy LADWP

SILVER LAKE — Officials will take advantage of this year’s heavy rain and snow to start refilling the Silver Lake Reservoir ahead of schedule, with the refill expected to take only two months instead of about a year under previous plans.

It was only a few months ago that a severe drought forced officials to say they could only refill the iconic reservoir with limited water supplied pumped from a well near the L.A. River. But now the L.A. Department of Water & Power said that the agency will use surplus water from above average snowpack runoff in the Eastern Sierra to restore the reservoir, which has been drained for more than a year for a pipeline project. The refilling of the reservoir is scheduled to begin in mid-April, a few weeks ahead of schedule.

“The abundant water supply from this winter’s snowfall has come to us with an added benefit,” said Richard Harasick, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of Water, in a statement. “With the above average snowpack, we have a surplus of water in the LA Aqueduct System and with it the opportunity to refill Silver Lake Reservoir ahead of schedule.”

Once filled to historic levels ranging between 440 and 450 feet above sea level, the water level will be maintained with untreated water from a well in Elysian Valley. That water will be pumped uphill and into the reservoir through an approximately 3,100 feet of pipeline now being installed.

City leaders cautioned that water-conservation efforts need to be kept in mind as a long-term, master-plan is developed for the future the reservoir now that it is no longer used to store drinking water.  “This overflow is a gift, and we need to continue to be vigilant in our conservation efforts for water use,” said 13th District Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell in a statement.

The LADWP  will provide an update to residents tonight, March 22, about plans to refill the reservoir.

Update: Susan Rowghani of the LADWP provided a few more details at tonight’s meeting:

  • The agency has agreed to pay for a master plan for the reservoir property that would be spearheaded by the Bureau of Engineering.
  • The smaller Ivanhoe Reservoir to the north of the Silver Lake Reservoir will be drained and the shade balls removed.  But it will also be refilled along with the much larger Silver Lake Reservoir starting in April.
  • Most of the reservoir properties will remain off limits to the public and surrounded by chain link fencing. However, Rowghani said the agency is working to shift some of the walking path along West Silver Lake Drive closer to the Hyperion Reservoir and allow the public to walk across the dam at the south end of the Silver Lake Reservoir.
  • The reason it will take much less time to fill the reservoir  than originally planned —  2 months instead of 12 — is because there will be a much greater volume of water that can be tapped from the snowmelt than from the well in Elysian Valley. The groundwater from that well, however, will be tapped to keep the reservoir topped off as water evaporates.

Canada goose at the reservoir in 2014 | Sandy Driscoll

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  1. If any community has earned this special expedited accommodation Silver Lake most certainly has.

    • Haha I can’t tell if this is sarcasm or not, but it definitely made me giggle.

    • A bunch of rich old people stomping their feet and screaming is what got this to be expedited, I would hardly say that’s earned. The reservoir should have be turned into a community park like Echo Park lake so everyone could enjoy it. Instead, now it’s turning back into the same thing it was before: a giant puddle with a huge chain link fence surrounding it. No aspect of it helps the community except the real estate agents selling houses with a view of it.

      • It’s sad because none of the 1000s of people who walk, run and walk their dog around it or picnic in its meadow weekly “enjoy it.” And there’s no other parks in the area except for tiny Griffith Park and Elysian Park. Such a fail.

        • Check out Vista Hermosa park in Echo Park for a great example of a park done right. Great views, clean, and a real sense of a place where the entire community is welcomed and can enjoy and use the space.

          • “A bunch of rich old people stomping their feet…” ?
            LOL, you are funny. Sounds like you probably don’t even visit the place. There are the meadows, there is the rec center, there are areas to picnic. What’s wrong with having a large body of water that provides serenity to all who hang out, visit, jog, etc.?

            And what’s wrong with providing a place — a sanctuary — for our wildlife and birds? Such as the great Blue Herons? Does everything in LA have to be — if not a concrete jungle — something with multiple uses and purposes?

      • Record snowpack in the eastern sierra got this expidited. DWP doesn’t have storage space for it all, and just letting this water flow into Lake Owens instead of Silver Lake would be a lot more costly for DWP (the floods this spring are going to damage the work they’ve put into dust remediation)

  2. Besides the Canadian geese, what type of birds have frequented the reservoir in the past? Anyone? Don’t suppose there might be Egrets.

    • Great Blue Herons have frequently nested in the trees along W. Silver Lake.

    • Over 135 types of birds have been recorded using the reservoir as both home and migrational resting place. The reservoir is a birding hotspot, with flocks of literally over a thousand birds flying in . There have indeed been white egrets as well as mallards, American Wigeons, Cinnamon Teals, many varieties of seagulls, American White Pelicans, Green Herons, Glossy Ibis, and many more. For a full list, google ebird hot spots and fill in Silver Lake Reservoir, LA, CA. Then, when the water’s completely in, get out those binoculars and enjoy!

      • So thrilled that we and the wildlife will soon have a full reservoir again! Griffith Park, the 20th largest park in the country (at over 4200 acres) is beautiful and nearby. What a wonderful opportunity to have Silver Lake host and enjoy the only local sanctuary and protected area for wildlife, including thousands of migrating birds, again! The Great Blue Herons should be nesting soon.

  3. Silver Lake has been a major resting place on the great Pacific Flyway — big enough for hundreds of thousands of birds that have stopped there on their continental journeys to feed , nest or regroup. The abundant walking paths and the meadow afford the many, many people who love to watch them a unique wildlife experience — right within L.A.! For the Great Blue Herons and numerous ducks, the fence creates a protected natural habitat where they can safely hatch their young. We are thrilled DWP is getting the water back in so far ahead of schedule. Over the past 100 years, Silver Lake has provided an oasis of nature, even more precious as L.A. has grown up around it. There’s nothing else like it.Lady Hiking

  4. Just a a brief education for those who keep on bringing up Echo Park. Echo Park was never a reservoir for drinking water. In 1891 the collected water was, I believe, used by a factory mill and then later used as a publicity tool for real estate. Similar to the original Hollywoodland sign. So to compare Silver Lake Reservoir to Echo Park Lake is like comparing apples to broccoli.
    Since 1891 or 1892, Echo Park was a park. Never a reservoir. Silver Lake Reservoirs (there are two within the complex) have been nothing but reservoirs until they were recently taken off line. For over 100 years, people who bought or built homes near the reservoir did so with the understanding it was a reservoir, with some open areas. Since 1891, people bought or built homes around Echo Park knowing they were building and/or buying in very close proximity to a public recreation center with all that comes with it.
    And stop with the blatant ageism. Many people of all ages, who live in Silver Lake, would like some semblance of peace and quiet. Many of whom bought their homes never anticipating prospect of turning the reservoir into a “Echo Park Lake” recreational complex.
    I’d like to see a good majority of the fenced in area used as a wildlife sanctuary. What a fantastic idea. Silver Lake, unlike other areas of Los Angeles, is far from “parked starved”. There’s Griffith Park (4300 acres), Headworks Park, Tommy Lasorda Fields, John Ferraro Fields and Dog Park, Bellevue Park, Elysian Park, and guess what… There’s also Silver Lake, with its; Meadow, children’s park, Grassy Knoll. picnic tables, walking paths, a dog park for large and small, basketball court and complete recreational facility. Before the city contemplates “our park needs”, why don’t they spend some time and money creating parks and open space for those who live in other communities where safe, clean parks are a rarity.
    Yes to a wildlife/migratory bird sanctuary!!!!!!

    • I find it strange that people move into loud happening neighborhoods that are 5 minutes from downtown in the biggest city in the country then start stomping their feet demanding “peace and quiet”. If you want quiet, consider the suburbs, Silver Lake is for everyone, not just those “older” (err excuse me, our TREASURED AGED CITIZENS) who want the quiet retired life. I have yet to hear an excuse for keeping the lake the way it is that didn’t smack of classism and selfishness. The birds would still have been able to use it just fine if the usable area of the lake was expanded and boardwalks and more paths where added.

      • Ah, there it is…!! “TheRealMonty” wasn’t satisfied to use the ageism argument, but now resorts to the “classism” and “selfishness” arguments. Really dude?

        Give it a rest. Or… you can triple down (you already doubled down with “classism and “selfishness”), and call Silver Lakers “racist.” Go ahead, I know you really want to…

    • When it comes to the future use of Silver Lake, I have to think of the words of William Mullholland: “There it is – take it.”

    • The original vision for the Silver Lake Reservoir area was to make it into a park complex. In fact, 2000 Eucalyptus trees were planted in the hillsides surrounding the reservoir as part of this plan. (Some still remain). Silver Lake was also stocked with fish and recreational fishing in the lake was encouraged. So if you really want to go back to the original use and design of Silver Lake it should be made into a park! BTW Echo park lake was original known as “Reservoir No. 4” and was converted into Echo Park Lake in 1891!

  5. Aw man, I was hoping they would convert the reservoir into an off roading park :/

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