Faced with opposition to a plan to cover Elysian Reservoir, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is preparing to hire two consultants to study the project from different points of view.
One consultant, yet to be selected, will prepare an environmental impact report on the department's proposal to construct a rigid aluminum roof over the seven-acre reservoir just north of downtown, the department announced last week.
A second consultant, the landscape architectural firm of Campbell & Campbell of Santa Monica, has been chosen to work with Elysian Park residents to come up with alternatives to an aluminum cover.
The residents have protested that an aluminum cover is destined to become "a 7-acre graffiti message" in the middle of a major park.
All reasonable suggestions made by the Campbell & Campbell study will be added to the environmental study, said Walter Hoye, design engineer for the department.
The decision to prepare an environmental report, announced in a letter released last week, is a partial victory for the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park. The group filed suit to contest the department's 1986 decision that environmental studies were not necessary.
However, in the letter, Hoye reasserted the DWP's position that an aluminum roof, expected to cost approximately $5 million, is "the preferred alternative."
Sallie Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Save Elysian Park Committee, said she fears that an environmental report could negate community suggestions brought forward by Campbell & Campbell.
The 55-million-gallon reservoir near the Pasadena Freeway in Elysian Park supplies drinking water to about 375,000 people in downtown and eastern Los Angeles. Although water that passes through it is considered safe, the DWP plans to cover several small reservoirs as part of a citywide program to meet stricter water quality standards of the state Department of Health Services.
Covering the reservoirs protects the water from contaminants in the air and rain runoff and inhibits the growth of algae.
This month, a floating rubber cover is being installed on the Eagle Rock Reservoir just north of the Ventura Freeway near Pasadena. That project, which will cost about $1.6 million, raised no protests.
Because of concern that a floating cover could more easily be damaged by vandals in heavily used Elysian Park, the DWP has opted for a more expensive aluminum cover on the Elysian Reservoir.
Neubauer said the Save Elysian Park committee members--veterans of many battles with the city over proposed changes in the park--want the reservoir left as is, but that if improvements have to be made, they would prefer either a floating cover or the replacement of the reservoir by underground storage, so that the buffer around the lake could be restored to open access.
"Aside from the reservoir, they have 21 acres fenced off," Neubauer said. "It would be great place to picnic and hike in the hills."