Lady, Lake and Lotuses Blossom Again

ECH_2259Angelenos spread out their blankets and picnic lunches in the shade on lush, green grass…children romped on a shiny new playground…Terns dipped and darted over the lake…neighbors laughed and talked as they strolled… everyone oohed and ahhed over the pink and yellow Lotus blooms…

On a sunny day in the middle of June, Echo Park Lake re-opened to the public after a two-year $45 million Proposition O-funded rehabilitation project that remedied its longtime water pollution problem. Now the lake meets California’s water quality standards and gives the Echo Park community an improved and more sustainable lake to enjoy. “Today we celebrate the rebirth of a lake, of a park and of a neighborhood,” stated Mayor-elect and current City of Los Angeles Councilmember Eric Garcetti, who opened the mid-morning ribbon-cutting ceremony. Also in attendance were Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Board of Public Works President Capri Maddox, Bureau of Sanitation Director Enrique C. Zaldivar, City Engineer Gary Lee Moore and Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri.

Echo Park Lake’s history dates back to the 1860s when it was built as Echo.Park.Lake.lady.painting.6.18.13Reservoir No. 4 for drinking water. The local legend is that Echo Park Lake and the surrounding community’s name came into being in the late 1800s after workers discovered that their voices “echoed” off the bluffs and hillsides to the east and west of the small canyon where Echo Park Lake is now located. Today the lake is a Los Angeles icon in the heart of the city that functions primarily as a detention basin in the City’s storm drain system with its water flowing ultimately into the LA River. It also provides recreational benefits and wildlife habitat and has played host to the annual Lotus Festival, which is scheduled to return in July 2014. Its iconic Lotus flowers are a constant source of beauty for painters and park goers alike.

In 2006, Echo Park Lake was identified by the State of California as an impaired water body. To solve this impairment, the City of Los Angeles utilized funds from Proposition O, the 2004 Clean Water Bond, to rehabilitate the lake. Key elements of the Echo Park Lake project include a new clay liner to reduce water leaking through the lake’s bottom, in-lake recirculation and aeration systems, wetland areas, porous Echo.Park.Lake.Lady.Statue.vertpavement walking paths, underground stormwater diversion systems and trash screening devices, a playground for children, landscaping encircling the lake and a reconstructed Lotus bed.

And quietly overseeing all of the grand re-opening activities was Echo Park Lake’s Lady of the Lake 1930s Art Deco-styled statue, restored and enjoying her original view of the newly blooming Lotus flowers and, no doubt, smiling to herself at her lake’s, her Lotus’ and her own new beginning. 

Photos courtesy of City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works.

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Comments (5)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Bernardo Beradino
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    This is fantastic. Couldn’t be happier. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. Let’s make the park better and better.

  2. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Samuel In
    August 1st, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    What a beautiful lake. Every time I drive by the Glendale Blvd I find it excellent with the water lotus flowers in full bloom. Thank you for keeping the lake so beautiful. I appreciate very much.

  3. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Kris Franklin
    August 1st, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Beautiful place in the pictures, I want to go as soon as I can. Thank you for restoring it and making it so beautiful. Good job.

  4. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Michael Rabe
    August 3rd, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Any ideas on how to properly maintain algae, lily and other types of vegetation within the lake?

    • Avatar for LA Stormwater
      LA Stormwater
      August 5th, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      The Bureau of Sanitation and Recreation and Parks have a plan to properly maintain all aspects of Echo Park Lake. The vegetation that you’re seeing in the lake is intentional and is part of the wetland portion of the new lake.

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