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Reservoir construction frustrates residents

February 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Federal regulations mandate that the city of Los Angeles no longer have open air reservoirs. So, the Department of Water and Power (DWP) is building a new one underground. On the northwestern edge of Griffith Park, work crews have been busy covering the huge underground Headworks Reservoir that will provide water to much of central Los Angeles. The 110 million-gallon tanks that will be buried under the 15-acre site will replace one of the city's last open air reservoirs in Silver Lake, some eight miles away.

But connecting the new underground reservoir to the city's distribution system has meant plenty of road closures. And with the project almost a year behind schedule, residents are frustrated.

"A five-month job and it's now in month 11," said Jack Conway, a life-long resident of Silver Lake.

He says construction delays have disrupted the quality of life in his neighborhood.

"The bus line was discontinued on March 15th of last year and has not been restored, and we have no idea when it's going to be restored," said Conway.

Other residents say the road closures and machinery have made for unsafe intersections.

"Any time you have a project like this, it does have impact and fatigue on the community," said City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents District 4, which includes Silver Lake and Griffith Park.

He acknowledges that the so called Headworks Project has been disruptive, but says it is necessary.

"The infrastructure's important and you need to do this every 50 years, and this is that time," said LaBonge.

Because of potential terrorist or biological attacks, recent federal laws require all open air reservoirs to be covered. So crews are in the process of carving tunnels some 40-feet deep from Griffith Park to Silver Lake.

Inside the tunnels, new 96-inch pipes are being installed. In some cases, these are replacing pipes that are more than 100 years old.

The DWP admits that the project has been delayed by weather and other unforeseen complications. At a community meeting last week, the DWP said the road closures through Griffith Park, Los Feliz and Silver Lake will last another several months.

The entire Headworks Project, which includes a power plant and regulating station, won't be complete until 2017.