Tonight’s update on the city’s plan to drain and clean up Echo Park Lake featured some tension between wildlife advocates and the engineers overseeing the $84 million water quality project. Mary Loquvam, executive director of the Los Angeles Audbon Society, said that city engineers have failed to give serious consideration to keep some water in the lake during construction for the benefit of migratory and local birds. “This hasn’t been a serious consideration despite our requests and our suggestions over the last three years, and that’s very disappointing,” Loquvam said during tonight’s workshop at Logan Street Elementary School.
Engineers with the city’s Department of Public Works and their consultants at this point prefer draining the entire lake at once as part of a project to install a new filtration system, storm drains and other features to improve water quality. Leaving water in the 13-acre lake might leave the entire park closed for up to four years instead of the two as now planned. “We are trying to have the contractor come in, go out as soon as he can so that we can return back the lake to the city and to you,” said Hala Titus.
Wildlife activists said time is running out to address the issue since the city is scheduled to file a comprehensive environmental report next month. Other news to come out of the meeting:
* Construction work is scheduled to start in April 2011 and last at least 24 to 26 months if the entire lake is drained.
* The entire park will be fenced off during the project.
* Four acres of the lake’s surface will be covered with plants, create artificial wetlands to help filter and clean the water.
* 51 trees will be removed and more than 70 new trees will be planted.
* Most of the trucks that will carry out tons of contaminated dirt and muck will enter and exit the park off Echo Park Avenue south of Laguna Avenue.