Cleaning up Echo Park Lake is going to be a big mess for residents

The murky waters of Echo Park Lake have been found to contain everything from copper and lead to ammonia and toxic PCBs (not to mention the countless rusted remains of abandoned shopping carts). Many residents have been looking forward to an $84 million effort to clean up the lake with bond money earmarked for improving water quality. But the rehabilitation of the park is going to test the patience of nearby residents who will have to put up with months of noise, dirt and traffic congestion.

An early environmental review (warning: it’s a big PDF file) completed by the city reveals a long list of significant environmental impacts on everything to migrating birds to historic structures. But among the most serious involve the removal of a massive amount of dirt, sediment and muck from the lake bottom. The reports estimates that as much as 50,000-cubic feet of soil will have to be trucked out of the park. That’s enough dirt to require 2,500 trips by noisy, heavy-duty trucks spewing diesel exhaust. But before that smelly dirt is hauled out of Echo Park Lake some of it must be left outside to dry in giant piles – for one to two months.

The city’s will present the initial study to residents at a “scoping meeting” on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 6:30 PM at Logan Street Elementary School. People then have until October 9 to submit comments about the study. After, that lakeside residents might want to decide where they want to live for two years of construction expected to being January 2011.

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