About 30 residents listened and asked questions Tuesday as the Metropolitan Water District sought their support for a plan to cover the 30-acre reservoir, which provides water for the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the Harbor area.
"The water is safe, but we do not have the quality of water we want and we need to do something," MWD water quality manager Mike McGuire told the group, which included many whose hillside homes overlook the reservoir.
Specifically, he said, the water has bacteria and algae problems that require super-chlorination to eliminate the "swampy odor and green cast." He said a cover can solve the problem by cutting off sunlight that causes algae to reproduce.
The 45-minute presentation at the reservoir appeared to have won over resident Carl Quigley, who said, "It sounds like a a logical idea, beneficial and necessary."
Bill Bischoff took the middle ground, saying, "I like it the way it is, but if it's going to help, what am I going to say?"
"I'm a skeptic," said resident Ray Miller. "Just because a professional engineer comes up with an idea, that doesn't make it the only idea." During the presentation, Miller said the MWD should consider giving customers bottled water--McGuire responded that costs would be exorbitant--or installing home filtration systems, which McGuire labeled impractical because of maintenance demands.
The MWD board will make the final decision on the cover and McGuire would not speculate on whether it would reject the idea in the face of public protest. "It is important to us what people think," he said.
Officials urged residents to make their views known to the board.
Aside from the water-quality question, the district said a covering will allow the 358-million gallon reservoir to be used to capacity for water storage in the event of an emergency. It has been operating at a quarter of its capacity for several years because of the algae and bacteria.
The earliest the $10-million, rubber-like covering could be installed would be May, 1987. Some residents suggested that the district put on a solid cover and use the surface for recreation, or even a shopping center.
MWD officials also made a presentation to the Rolling Hills Estates City Council, which asked questions but took no position on the proposal. In response to one question, water officials said tests have shown the reservoir to be safe in the event of a large earthquake.