Silver Lake Reservoir

The Silver Lake Reservoir Complex comprises two concrete-lined basins, Ivanhoe Reservoir and Silver Lake, divided by a spillway, in the Silver Lake community of Los Angeles, California.

Silver Lake Reservoir Complex
Silver Lake Reservoir looking northwest pano 2015-10-11.jpg
View to the northwest across lower reservoir
Location of Silver Lake Reservoir in California, USA.
Location of Silver Lake Reservoir in California, USA.
Silver Lake Reservoir Complex
Location of Silver Lake Reservoir in California, USA.
Location of Silver Lake Reservoir in California, USA.
Silver Lake Reservoir Complex
Location of Silver Lake Reservoir in California, USA.
Location of Silver Lake Reservoir in California, USA.
Silver Lake Reservoir Complex
LocationSilver Lake, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates34°06′04″N 118°15′54″W / 34.10107°N 118.26495°W / 34.10107; -118.26495Coordinates: 34°06′04″N 118°15′54″W / 34.10107°N 118.26495°W / 34.10107; -118.26495
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length1.2 km (0.75 mi)
Max. width500 m (1,600 ft)
Surface area39 hectares (96 acres)
Water volume3,000,000 m3 (2,400 acre⋅ft)
Shore length13.2 km (2.0 mi)
Surface elevation433 ft (132 m)
ReferencesU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Silver Lake Reservoir
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.


The lower body of water was named in 1906 for Water Board Commissioner Herman Silver, and in turn lends its name to the neighborhood.[1] The upper body received its name after the 1819 Sir Walter Scott novel Ivanhoe.[2]

The reservoirs are owned and maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), and could provide water to 600,000 homes in downtown and South Los Angeles;.[3] Only the smaller of the two, Ivanhoe, remains online. At capacity, it holds 795 million US gallons (3,010,000 m3) of water.[3] The Silver Lake Reservoir's water resources will be replaced by the Headworks Reservoir, an underground reservoir north of Griffith Park, slated for completion by December 2017.[4]

The reservoir is the focal point of the community and has evolved as a regional recreational resource. It is surrounded by several recreational areas, including a dog park on the south, a nursery school on the north, and the Silver Lake Recreation Center, which includes a basketball court on the south side of the lake. There is also a walking and jogging path, which stretches 2.2 miles (3.5 km) around the reservoir.[2] In April 2011, the City of Los Angeles opened up for public use a three-acre passive park on the east side of the lake dubbed the "Silver Lake Meadow," modeled after the Sheep Meadow in New York's Central Park.

The reservoir was featured in Visiting... with Huell Howser Episode 1610.[5]

Environmental issuesEdit

Ivanhoe Reservoir after addition of shade balls

In December 2007, the DWP announced that the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe reservoirs had both become contaminated with unusually high levels of the cancer-causing chemical bromate, and were immediately isolated.[6] The reservoirs were both drained over several weeks in March 2008,[1] and refilled in May 2008.[3]

Two months later, 400,000 black hollow plastic shade balls were placed in Ivanhoe, which remain in use, to reduce the likelihood of the sunlight-fueled bromate. Silver Lake Reservoir was taken offline permanently.[7][8] This incident pointed out the necessity of protecting the water supply by using underground tanks. The black plastic balls were created in Allentown, Pennsylvania by Orange Products Inc. The balls are also used at airports to prevent birds from landing in water runoff, thus preventing birds from being drawn into aircraft engines. The balls were certified by NSF International which certifies the safety of food, water, and consumer goods. In February 2013 LADWP contracted with Glendora, California-based manufacturer XavierC LLC to supply an additional 6.4 million hollow plastic shade balls for reservoirs.[9]

Future of The Silver Lake Reservoir ComplexEdit

On March 27, 2018, a community-led initiative began to help guide the repurposing of the reservoir complex and surrounding site. The current status of this initiative is the development of a Master Plan that will guide improvements and protection of the reservoirs, and seek to balance its historic character, its use as a community gathering place, its strategic location within the Silver Lake community, and its unique blend of both functional and recreational spaces. The plan was finalized in August 2020 with input from the community and several local stakeholder groups including the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy, Silver Lake Forward, Silver Lake Now and Silver Lake Wildlife Sanctuary.

In popular cultureEdit

The reservoir appeared in the 2018 movie Under the Silver Lake, directed by David Robert Mitchell.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b LA Times article: "Silver Lake goes dry".
  2. ^ a b Take Sunset article: "13 Facts About The Silver Lake Reservoir".
  3. ^ a b c LADWP press release: "LADWP Begins Refilling the Silver Lake Reservoir[permanent dead link]"
  4. ^ LADWP fact sheet: Headworks Reservoir - Silver Lake Reservoir Complex Storage Replacement".
  5. ^ "Silver Lake Reservoir – Visiting (1610) – Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University".
  6. ^ LADWP press release: "Statement on Silver Lake and Elysian Reservoir Bromate Issue Archived 2009-01-05 at the Wayback Machine".
  7. ^ KCBS-TV CBS 2 article: "400,000 Balls Get Dumped In Silver Lake Reservoir Archived 2008-06-12 at the Wayback Machine".
  8. ^ LA Times article: "We are not making this up: Ivanhoe Reservoir in Silver Lake covered in little black plastic balls."
  9. ^ "Listing Category Search Page | NSF International". 2014-07-22. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  10. ^ "Under the Silver Lake – Filming & Production". IMDb. Retrieved 20 July 2022.

External linksEdit