Runner in front of Silver Lake Reservoir Fence

Chain link fencing surrounds the Silver Lake Reservoir

Silver Lake - The chain-link fence has been around the reservoirs for so long that we take it for granted.

The fence was part of security measures to protect the city's supply of drinking water. But now that we no longer use the Silver Lake and Hyperion reservoirs for potable water, the question arises - could the fence ever come down? 

For some, the chain link fence is an unwanted barrier between the neighborhood and its reservoirs, an eyesore that spoils the view of the water for passersby.

"The first time I visited Silver Lake Reservoir – a popular recreation spot for LA's Eastsiders – the main thing I noticed was the fence," said writer Sandi Hemmerlein in a 2014 blog post. "People walk their dogs, jog, and do yoga outside of the fence while the placid reservoir glimmers in the Magic Hour on the other side."

Whether the fence will stay or go is one of the many issues that will be covered by Silver Lake Reservoir Complex Master Plan process that is led by the Bureau of Engineering, said Dawn Cotterell from the L.A. Department of Water and Power. And that Master Plan, she notes, is still in the early stages - with the first community workshop held late last month June 27.

Fence or no fence?

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For now, Cotterell said, the eight-foot-tall perimeter fence - with some sections reaching 12-feet high and others topped by strands of barbed wire - is staying in place for safety reasons. This concern arose again recently when a man turned up swimming in the Silver Lake Reservoir, ultimately suffering hypothermia. A woman was also rescued from the reservoir less than six months before that.

Despite concerns about security, many would prefer to see the fence come down.  In a 2016 survey conducted by Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy, 74% of the respondents expressed at least some support for removing the fence.

New fences were installed when new walking paths were built closer to the water across the South Dam of the Silver Lake Reservoir and on the west side of the Hyperion Reservoir. But these barriers are only waist-high chain link fencing that permits an obstructed view of the reservoirs.

"People generally want to get closer to the water," said Cyndi Hubach, vice president of the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy, "and they'd like the banks to have a more appealing and natural appearance."

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