Swim Silver Lake, an organization headed by Silver Lake resident Catherine Geanuracos, is fighting to transform a section of the soon-to-be-derelict Silver Lake Reservoir into a recreational swimming spot. The proposed development (see above image) would be equipped with swimming lanes, shaded walkways—even a sliver of sandy beach.
Before deteriorating into the stagnant pond it is today, the Silver Lake Reservoir was a source of potable water for various communities in central and south L.A. When high levels of the carcinogen bromate were discovered in the reservoir in 2007, the Department of Water and Power drained, refilled, and topped it off with millions of “Shade Balls”—black, plastic balls that protect water from exposure to sunlight. (Bromate tends to form in the presence of sunlight.) Nevertheless, said efforts didn’t quite do the trick, and new Federal regulations that promote covered reservoirs signaled the final death toll for the Silver Lake Reservoir.
According to the Swim Silver Lake manifesto, a renovation is not only opportune but logical. “Since the reservoir will be dismantled and disrupted, why not take this opportunity to improve our community and expand the ways we can use the reservoir? We can not only walk and run around a beautiful body of water, but transform it into a functional space for community recreation.”
The next step? “We're hoping to work with our local elected officials, DWP, the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, and other stakeholders to explore the feasibility of the project and develop a workable plan,” Geanuracos told us in an email. The project is still in the planning phase, but Geanuracos hopes to develop the “Silver Lake Plunge” in two to five years.
Swim Silver Lake is currently looking for volunteers to host a neighborhood event, join an organizing committee, or spread the good word through social media.