As the sounds of a generator echoed through Glendale's largest reservoir, about 15 residents descended 32 feet underground into the facility's large concrete chamber.
“Just thinking that I'm standing where I'll be drinking water from is an amazing experience,” said Hector Lavanchy, whose home neighbors the Diederich Reservoir.
Wednesday marked the first time the public could view the south section of the reservoir, which has been undergoing construction improvements for more than a year. The reservoir services about 50% of Glendale residents, and has a 58-million-gallon capacity.
“We use this water every day. You flush your toilet, you put on your sprinkler, we get the water out of here,” said GWP Civil Engineer Pat Hayes.
The $5.9 million project included installing thousands of feet of steel water main, replacing 10 valves that allow water to gush into the chamber, as well as putting in new drain pipes.
An aging pipeline and broken valves, as well as a close proximity to an earthquake fault line, caused utility officials to upgrade the 65-year-old facility at Campbell Street and Glenmont Drive.
The city expects to complete the project later this month. It will take about a day and a half to refill the empty chamber after it has been cleaned and chlorinated.
Glendale residents use about 28 million gallons of water per day. The water comes from city wells and the Southern California Metropolitan Water District. About half of that total flows through Diederich Reservoir.
Erica Passman, who lives near the reservoir, brought her seven-year-old son on the tour to get a sneak peak at the improvements.
“We've been watching this thing unfold for the past year. We were just curious to see what's been happening inside,” she said.
Her son, Derick Mallan, took in the experience. He climbed down steps to get a closer look at a 48 inch valve — Glendale's largest — and stared up at an open grate as light shined on the empty cell.
“I think it's so cool,” Derick said.