A Mantra, A Fence and A Lot of Water

My mantra is “No, Los Angeles is not just freeways and cars.”

Contrary to widespread opinion one can find a lot of beautiful spots in the city. One such little gem is the Rowena Reservoir. It is also an example for a few interesting facts re. city development and neighborhood activities.

In 1992 the city passed a new ordinance that all open reservoirs had to be drained and were to be replaced by tanks. That made sense in an area threatened by earthquakes. The plan for the Rowena Reservoir was to drain the 31 million gallons of water stored there and to put in a new storage tank for 10 million gallons.

Above ground.

To be able to imagine the size of such a tank, one only has to do a few calculations to come up with numbers quite mind-boggling – that would be a cube with an edge length of 33 meters (or 108 feet). Even a tank only 16.5 m high (54 feet) would still have a length of 66 m (216 feet) and a width of 16.5 m (54 feet). Any variation whatsoever leads to the same result – a tank for 10 million gallons of water is a humongous structure.

To be placed above ground.

Understandably, people in the neighborhood were concerned and protested, which lead to talks with the Department of Water and Power. Incidentally, this was the very first instance for such cooperation between the DWP and citizens of LA. In due course an alternative plan was agreed upon: to drain the lake, put in a storage tank for 10 million gallons below ground, landscape the area, fill up a new, smaller lake and fence the whole area in, so that nobody can use it. For safety reasons, you know…

2002 the work was finished. The Rowena Reservoir is beautiful. To look at, quite longingly, but not to use. Unless one is a duck.


However, a tank above ground would have been much, much worse. There are also rumors that talks have begun about opening access for the public to the area. Maybe in another 10 years one can see a photo of the reservoir here sans fence.

I am sure that the DWP will then have to put up with a lot of complaining ducks.

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