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      Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation

Volume 1, Issue 2

Echo Park Highlights the Urban Lake Conundrum

Families lounging on lawn chairs and couples enjoying a picnic lunch by the water surround this charming lake in the heart of Los Angeles. Gulls soar above forty-foot palms whose fronds rock to-and-fro in the springtime breeze. Joggers and bicyclists race by while children entertain themselves on a nearby playground. It is certainly not hard to see why Echo Park Lake has become such a popular destination for thousands every week.

Located in the trendy Silverlake/Echo Park district of Los Angeles, the urban lake is surrounded by 16-acres of lush park space with the gleaming downtown skyline as a backdrop. Originally designed as a reservoir, the lake now serves as a link to the city’s vast storm drain system while providing flood protection for the community. Many challenges face the City’s ability to keep this little lake alive and well.

Unfortunately, deterioration of its infrastructure over the years, and the many domestic waterfowl that inhabit the lake, has prevented it from operating as it was originally intended. As a result of bird droppings, deteriorating sidewalks, stormdrains and pollutants transmitted into the lake from the surrounding area, Echo Park Lake has been found to have high bacteria levels near stormdrain outfalls and poor water quality in certain areas.

In February of 2007 the Los Angeles City Council approved $84.3 million in funding to clean up Echo Park Lake. Supported by Proposition O funds, a major component of this massive rehabilitation project will include the draining of Echo Park Lake, removal of all sediment and pollutants, improvement of aquatic vegetation and habitat, and the redesign of the park and irrigation system.

Visitors paddle across Echo Park Lake’s tranquil waters using quaint "foot-powered" boats.

The revitalization of Echo Park Lake will ensure that urban runoff is captured and cleaned before it reaches the Los Angeles River. However, it is not only the lake that is getting a face lift so too is the surrounding park. New porous concrete paths are to be constructed around the lake along with public seating areas, fishing points, bird-watching lookouts, educational kiosks and a retaining wall with planted aquatic terraces that will provide fish, amphibian, and waterfowl habitat.

“This project will reduce the bacteria count to healthy levels, and it will significantly reduce pollution from impacting water downstream,” says Council President Eric Garcetti who led the charge to pass the 2004 water quality bond, and whose district includes Echo Park. “The lake is not only the collection point for the entire area’s urban runoff – it is the crowning jewel of Echo Park. Our actions provide us with the chance to create a win-win opportunity for one of Los Angeles’ most beloved local lakes.”

Children enjoy the park’s playground area.

OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE: Manager’s Message | L.A.s Lost Streams | Ellevan & Luma | Prop O Update

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