Storm-water runoff could help keep the Silver Lake reservoirs filled up

Photo by Sandy Driscoll


SILVER LAKEFor more than a century drinking water had been used to replenish the Silver Lake reservoirs. Now, with the reservoirs no longer part of the city’s potable water system, funding is coming together  to use storm water runoff that usually washes away into the ocean to help keep the reservoirs filled in the future.

The Silver Lake Reservoir Stormwater Capture Project is part of citywide efforts to reduce dependence on imported water by capturing more rainfall runoff and using it to build up local reserves of groundwater.

The Silver Lake project would capture and treat nearly 52 million gallons of water a year. That would help replace nearly 40% of the 136 million gallons of water the Silver Lake and adjacent Hyperion reservoirs lose annually to evaporation and seepage, according to public documents. The L.A. Department of Water and Power is also upgrading a well near the L.A. River and building a pipeline to pump groundwater into the reservoirs.

Under a proposed agreement between LADWP and the city, the LADWP will provide  up to $8.129 million for the Silver Lake Stormwater project, according to a motion that has gone before the city council.

The motion says that “various innovating techniques” will be used to capture the stormwater for the Silver Lake reservoirs but does not say what those might be. The exact timeline for the project is also uncertain. Though the resolution before the City Council estimated it would take four years, the LADWP did not respond to emails asking when and where construction might take place. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council has also not received a specific start date yet, said Anne-Marie Johnson, co-chair of the council’s governing board.

The idea of using stormwater runoff  to feed the reservoirs has been around for a few years and has many supporters.

“Capturing stormwater from the Silver Lake Reservoir’s own watershed is one of the key strategies to help create a sustainable future for the Reservoirs,” said Craig Collins, a founding board member of Silver Lake Forward, an advocacy group for the reservoirs. He described the project as a win-win for the community.

“Untreated stormwater that would flow into the ocean is captured and cleansed, while reducing the demand on scarce domestic water sources,” he said.

Johnson, speaking for the neighborhood council, said that “We … generally support any realistic project that sensibly captures storm water and repurposes it for other uses.”

Noting her own personal support for the project, Johnson added, “The reservoirs are so important to Silver Lake on many levels. The complex has supported a large population of wildlife, which in turn helps to control natural occurring infestations of vermin. The reservoirs are also an iconic presence in L.A. generally, and in our wonderful neighborhood, specifically. They provide a wonderful sense of calm in a very busy city.”

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