Most Silver Lake residents are well aware of LADWP's major pipeline projects. These include the River Supply Conduit stretching from Griffith Park and now under Glendale Boulevard, and next will be the Silver Lake Bypass, to be built along the west side of Silver Lake Reservoir. These projects are part of the plan to replace the Reservoirs as part of LA's water system, and include the Headworks storage facility being built on the north side of Griffith Park.
The LA Department of Water and Power has been planning an extensive tunneling operation under West Silver Lake Drive, to end at an underground regulating station in the "grassy knoll" next to the Silver Lake Recreation Center. However, according to the Eastsider LA, the DWP is now considering an alternative to the tunneling, which would drain Silver Lake Reservoir for about 18 months. The Bypass Pipeline would be installed in the bottom of the Reservoir.
This new alternative plan, which was not part of the original Environmental Impact Report, would avoid some of the local construction impacts along West Silver Lake Drive. It may have cost and time savings. However, there has been no professional evaluation of what impacts would result from this alternative and extended draining of the Reservoir.
Before any plan can be finalized, there are many questions to be answered and studies will be required. What will be the impact on wildlife, especially the Great Blue Heron rookery that has thrived in the trees next to the Reservoir? With Echo Park Lake drained, wildlife impacts may be magnified.
This alternative will exchange one set of traffic and construction impacts for another, as there will still be much activity around the Reservoir. And what about dust, once the dry clay lakebed is exposed for at least a year and a half? Does the community support exchanging the traffic and construction along West Silver Lake Drive for an extensive draining of the Reservoir, with its own impacts? How can we be assured that the Reservoir will be refilled?
The Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy is evaluating viable alternatives that may minimize the extent of lake draining, what mitigation would be appropriate, and what will best serve the interests and needs of our community. We will support a community meeting to review these proposals.
We are also working to see how we can best prepare for the future of our beloved Silver Lake Reservoirs. Once these projects are completed in about 2015, the Reservoirs won't be needed as part of LA's water system.
The Conservancy will be helping drive the best future we can possibly achieve, in the short and the long term. We'll be updating the community regularly as these projects proceed.
One thing must be certain: the Reservoirs must be maintained in some form. They were built one hundred years ago, and William Mulholland understood that they are a part of the public trust. They will need a future that sustains and respects that vision and the community that has long treasured our unique heritage.
What do you think? Let us know, here and at the Conservancy website, www.silverlakereservoirs.org.