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2 Big DWP Tanks to Be Buried in Hills

Engineering: The structures will replace the Hollywood Reservoir in supplying tap water to area residents. The public may see them Saturday.

May 04, 2001|WENDY THERMOS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two massive water tanks, the largest structures of their type in the world, are about to be buried under tons of earth in the Hollywood Hills.

Before they disappear, the public can get a peek at the newly built Toyon tanks on Saturday during an open house being hosted by the Department of Water and Power.

The twin tanks, perched just below the famous Hollywood sign, will provide 500,000 city residents with cleaner and safer water than they've been getting from the open-lake Hollywood Reservoir, said Steven Cole, project manager.

The DWP is holding the open house partly to show nearby residents how the controversial project turned out and and partly because the agency knows that many people are fascinated by huge man-made structures, Cole said. The event will last from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors can get there by taking Lake Hollywood and La Sulvida drives off Barham Boulevard.

Inside each of the 30-million-gallon tanks, which have dozens of 40-foot columns supporting the roofs, it's "like being inside an Egyptian tomb," Cole said.

The tanks will rest below the ground-water table--a fact requiring them to be so big. "Basically, we designed them to be heavier. If we didn't, the ground water would cause them to pop right out of the ground," Cole said.

At 360 feet in diameter and 42 feet high, the tanks will be buried and then landscaped to preserve the view in the scenic Hollywood Hills. During the 10 years since the $80-million project was put on the drawing boards, it has been criticized by conservationists who said it would ruin animal habitat and by homeowners who didn't want construction traffic and mess.

Cole said the DWP believes it has addressed the concerns. By burying the tanks, he said, the area can be restored to something "fairly natural."

Objectionable truck traffic was significantly reduced during construction by buying adjacent canyon land and filling it with the million cubic yards of earth that had to be excavated. The dirt will be moved atop the tanks and planted with native vegetation, saving the $13 million or more that it would have cost to haul the dirt away.

The tanks are expected to begin providing water to residents in September.

The DWP was forced to build the tanks to meet tougher water quality standards that will go into effect by the end of the year. Because the reservoir is not covered, it is subject to bacterial contamination from birds, animals and runoff, Cole said, adding that the water meets current standards but won't consistently comply with new ones.

The Hollywood Reservoir will remain filled, although it will no longer flow into the taps of residents. There are no plans to make the reservoir into a recreational area, Cole said, because "we need to keep it clean in case it's ever needed as a backup supply in an emergency, like an earthquake."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

A New Day for an Old Watering Hole

The Hollywood Reservoir, the pride and joy of William Mullholland and a sparkling attraction for joggers and cyclists, has provided L.A. drinking water since 1924. Now, open reservoirs such as this one are being covered, abandoned or replaced to meet new water quality regulations. Here's how the Hollywood Reservoir is being affected:

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Source: DWP and EPA Researched by LESLIE CARLSON/Los Angeles Times

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