Contaminated: Silver Lake Reservoir to be drained

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.

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/04/slr2pano-thumb.jpg
(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?

12 Replies to “Contaminated: Silver Lake Reservoir to be drained”

  1. The question that pops into my mind. As the muck dries will that carcinogen have the possibility of becoming airborn on a windy day?

  2. I love it when people underestimate the skills of coyotes. They are one of the most successful mammals in the world for a reason.

  3. one wonders what the City will do with all that water (I don’t know if tha tis covered in th eartical, I haven’t read the paper yet).

  4. I was under the impression that Silver Lake Reservoir wasn’t actually in use as a water supply; it’s an emergency reservoir.

  5. Bromate is not a carcinogen, unless carbonate, table salt, and ethyl alcohol are carcinogens.

    The experiments run that force bromate to generate cancer, do so with these compounds also.

    US-EPA made their fiat with insufficient evidence, and apparently are incapable of reversing it. You will see they never say it is a carcinogen, only that it is a “suspected carcinogen”.

    This great storm is all about government “protecting” you from something based on bad science.

  6. I read the L.A. Times article 12/15/07 re: L.A. Resevoirs and have many many guestions. 1. If the the bromide is naturally present in the ground water and the reservoir is fed by local wells why would you refill using the same source? 2. The Ivanhoe reservoir which abuts the Silverlake
    reseroir is very much a integral part of the two reservoir system. I have often seen the water flow over the spillway from one to the other, so what effects Ivanhoe effects the other. How can the DWP now propose using Ivanhoe as a alternate source of drinking water while draining Silver Lake which is fed by the same well source? 3. If Bromide is natural in ground water and sunlight is certainly natural. So who is responsible for adding the chlorine that caused this elevated lever of suspected carcinogen bromate? Sounds like someone should contact Erin Brockovich and question the DWP. One more thing regarding the draining of the reservoir, I thought there is a federal law (Clean Water Act) against dumping known toxins into the any river including the L.A. river. I’ve lived in the Silver Lake area for almost 30 years and I am very concerned about the protection of our source of drinking water (or lack of it) and the developement of the surrounding area, i.e. Childrens Play Areas, Dog Parks, Coyote Refuge, Bike Paths, Pedestrian Walkways and Viewing Area currently under construction within a few feet of the waters edge. Someone, if not our elected officals, must step up and take seriously our immediate and fundemental health issues instead of placate to a few specail interest groups.

  7. The Safe Drinking Water Act no longer allows finished water (treated water) to be placed into uncovered reservoirs. How can this happen? Chlorine is usually added last after filtration or ozonation. How was the chlorine added to the water in the open reservoir…again by law it is not supposed to be uncovered if it is finished water.??If it was covered the sunlight would not have been available to react with the chlorine.

  8. The Safe Drinking Water Act no longer allows finished water (treated water) to be placed into uncovered reservoirs. How can this happen? Chlorine is usually added last after filtration or ozonation. How was the chlorine added to the water in the open reservoir…again by law it is not supposed to be uncovered if it is finished water.??If it was covered the sunlight would not have been available to react with the chlorine.

  9. It looks like this “accident” might have been either the result of testing chlorine dioxide, chloramine…
    http://www.csslr.org/thereservoirs/res_wqp.shtml

    … was a stunt to get public backing for a very expensive *planned* capital improvement project…
    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/LADWP+Board+of+Commissioners+Approves+Plan+to+Remove+Silver+Lake…-a0146274769

    What isn’t true is that photocatalytic production of bromate from free chlorine was unknown…
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/195/4284/1335

Comments are closed.