What do we do with the Silver Lake reservoirs?

By Bob Soderstrom, Luke Wood and Gustavo Herrera

LOS ANGELES TIMES | Editorial Page

A mock up of one possible future for the Silver Lake Reservoir. (Silver Lake Forward)

A mock up of one possible future for the Silver Lake Reservoir. (Silver Lake Forward)


The Silver Lake reservoir is empty. For months now, day after day, construction trucks drive up and down temporary ramps onto the floor of the lake. Neighbors are weary of construction on the surrounding streets, and of looking out at blank concrete walls surrounding a huge, dry pit. Walkers and runners peer through the rusty chain link fences and wonder what’s happening next.

Designed by William Mulholland at the dawn of the 20th century, the Silver Lake and neighboring Ivanhoe reservoirs were built to store water in case our aqueduct system failed. In 2006, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new rules about water quality, which required that the reservoirs be covered. In response, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power decided to decommission Silver Lake and Ivanhoe and build a new water treatment and storage facility near Griffith Park. This required bypassing the existing reservoirs with new pipes installed in the floor of the lakes...

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Author's foreword to forty gavels ROBERT SODERSTROM


In February, 1935, the city hall building in Decatur, Illinois was packed with an overflow crowd of angry, chanting workers who huddled in from the cold, stomped their feet and sang rowdy union songs. They were waiting for a single man to take the stage, my great-grandfather Reuben G. Soderstrom, 46 years-old and President of the Illinois State Federation of Labor.

A few days earlier, a strike by the Ladies Garment Workers of Decatur turned violent when the local police fired tear gas into the crowd of 25 women outside the Decatur Garment company and things got physical; some women were thrown in jail and at least one was hospitalized. The courts responded to the chaos not by issuing an injunction against the aggressive police, but against the brutalized women themselves! The injunction disallowed any future assembly by the working women. The community was livid. Fearful that the tense situation might explode, a local labor leader called the ISFL headquarters in Springfield for help from his statewide president. Soderstrom later shared how he responded...