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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