A Brief Background on Local Reservoirs:

The Silver Lake Reservoir complex consists of the Ivanhoe and Silver Lake reservoirs. The reservoirs were placed in service in 1907, but were not used as drinking water until 1920. Improvements in 1937 and 1950 increased water quality and capacity. Today, there is a total of 85 acres of surface water. The walk around is about 2-1/4 miles. Total acreage of the DWP property is about 127 acres. Ivanhoe is 30’ deep and holds 59 million gallons, Silver Lake is 39’ deep and holds 795 million gallons of water. Aerial photo of reservoir, 1973
View of the reservoir before (above) and after dam was rebuilt (below), 1973.

Aerial Photo of Rebuilt Dam
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The water is delivered from the LA aqueduct is blended with groundwater and delivered through the River supply conduit. Ivanhoe acts as a sand detention pond (those little grains that end up clogging your faucet aerators). The water then flows over the spillway into Silver Lake. After a final chlorine treatment, the water is delivered downstream to Elysian Reservoir, downtown and south central Los Angeles. Silver Lake residents drink water from Eagle Rock Reservoir. The entire, extensive water delivery system is based on gravity (with a few pumps) and has been designed conservatively with flexibility and redundancy –should there be outages due to disasters or water quality conditions.

In 1974, Silver Lake dam was declared unsafe after the 1971 San Fernando Valley earthquake. The lake was drained. It was at this time, the now-30-year-old Silver Lake Residents Association came to the fore to defend---so-to-speak---the proposed re-built dam’s location. The DWP threatened to move the dam to the north up to 600’ with a 10% surface water loss. Thus began the almost continuous adversarial relationship that existed between the community and the DWP until 1988 when the final straw was presented -- covering Ivanhoe and building an on-site, industrial-style filtration plan on the 6 acres on the east side of Silver Lake near Cove and in front of the Neutra VDL house. At this time, the single-issue Committee to Save Silver Lake’s Reservoirs was formed and joined with SLRA and the other reservoir communities to form the Coalition to Preserve Open Reservoirs.

In 1988, Jim Wickser, fresh from 20 years of Mono Lake litigation, and the newly appointed Division Head had a novel idea—why not talk to the community BEFORE a project was planned and perhaps work out a reasonable working relationship for the benefit of both water quality improvement and the community. So, on the brink of City-wide litigation, the 10 skeptical reservoir communities formed the Coalition to Preserve Open Reservoirs (CPOR) and thus, a not-always-agreeable but certainly better-than-litigation relationship was born and in the 10 years since the formal Mediation began, our community has benefited, as has the DWP. The repaving of Ivanhoe project included new sprinklers and landscaping as well as continuing monitoring of the stressed Aleppo Pines. Because our reservoir sides are paved, we don’t fall under the current Surface Water Treatment Rule that is requiring Stone, Hollywood and Encino Reservoirs to plan major projects in order to comply.

Someday, we will probably have to face this issue again, but for right now, there are no plans to cover Ivanhoe and build the filtration plant on site.

North Silver Lake Reservoir with cover
Ivanhoe Reservoir with a cover, c. 1930s
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