Big news for anyone living in Silver Lake or near Elysian Park:
Silver Lake and Elysian Reservoirs have somehow become contaminated with carcinogenic bromate and will have to be drained for 3 to 4 months so they can be fully cleaned, Eric Garcetti’s office announced.
(panorama by Will Campbell)
The good news is, there are no immediate health risks, as the reservoirs were taken offline the minute the contamination was discovered, and the LADWP claims no contaminated water reached the public.
This statement from LADWP admits the toxin probably got into the reservoirs during – irony alert – the LADWP’s own purification process:
The LADWP tests for bromate along with hundreds of other chemical constituents in accordance with California Department of Public Health testing protocols. It is a known carcinogen, with adverse health effects possible only after long-term exposure and testing standards and protocols are set by state and federal authorities. Bromate is known by public health officials and water quality experts to form in public water systems when water containing naturally occurring bromide is purified using ozone, a method typically used at filtration plants. Since it can form as part of the purification process, it is known as a “disinfection by-product”. In the case of Silver Lake and Elysian reservoirs, which are filled with water treated at the LA Aqueduct filtration plant, bromate formed unexpectedly when the water in the reservoir combined with groundwater, was treated with chlorine, and exposed to sunlight. This is the first time an occurrence like this has ever been observed. In response, staff moved swiftly to isolate the reservoirs. In fact, LADWP was commended by the California Department of Public Health for its quick action (see attached) and all steps have been undertaken in consultation with the Health Department.
More on this as it develops, but questions are already piling up in the back of my head:
- What will this huge body of water look like when it’s empty?
- Where will they get water in case of another wildfire like the Griffith Park blaze?
- What’s it going to smell like around Silver Lake once all the water’s drained and the leftover sediment starts to dry?
- And can the fenced-in coyotes learn to drink from the sprinklers?