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Blog: An Alternative Plan for Silver Lake Reservoirs Pipeline Project?

LA DWP Now Considering Draining of Reservoirs for Pipeline Construction

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jerome Courshon June 10, 2012 at 02:47 AM
If the reservoir were to be drained in order to run the pipeline underneath it, I think it's perfectly reasonable to get a full commitment from DWP and the City, that the reservoir will be re-filled when the pipeline is done. In fact, this should be one of the first points to discuss and get a commitment on, so that this relatively simple issue is off the table. I believe most residents of Silver Lake would be opposed to anything BUT the lake being refilled... not refilling it would be ludicrous. I can't imagine the DWP and/or the City going against an entirely community's wishes. (Or, presumably, even against Councilman LaBonge's wishes.)
Maryann Kuk June 11, 2012 at 02:33 AM
One thing is clear. The LADWP needs to present to the community the alternatives, impacts and trade offs including the costs and cost savings. Depending on where you live and how you enjoy the reservoirs, this phase of the Headworks project is complicated. What impact is horrible for one, is inconsequential for another. This project must be done and done well and all with a looming imposed deadline. Should the decision be that the reservoir must be drained, the LADWP should commit to refilling it in writing and agree to mitigation that the community can benefit by in the years to come. This could mean a comprehensive feasibility study of future use. It could mean a re-visited Master Plan and implementation of uses for the final portion of the property that was not considered when the 1999 Master Plan was done. It could mean a permanent path connecting W SL Dr and SL Bl behind the rec center. it could mean installation of web cams to monitor the great blue heron nests. It could be a long-term maintenance program for the path and the remaining property. It could mean some demonstration projects which could be used for the ultimate re-purpose. There is a lot of work to do by both the LADWP and the community. None of the solutions will be easy, but we've been faced with complex and complicated alternatives before and I'm confident that we're all up to the challenge.
Anthea Raymond (Editor) June 11, 2012 at 03:35 AM
@Jerome -- Maybe I will do a poll around this question: who would like to see the lake refilled after any draining demanded by the Headworks project? I think you may be right about that. @Maryann-Lots of good points and questions. Hope Craig will take a look at what you have written and weigh in. AR
Ronald van Ammers June 14, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Quite so. In fact, hasnt DWP already agreed to keep lake filled in perpetuity after cityLA takes over stewardship (ca 2016?). And while drained, couldnt the lake be filled with colored birdballs, at least? The current Tesla Ave traffic regulation scheme would make a good test case for webcam surveillance in Silverlake. We need a lot more cams, theyre getting to be real cheap.

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