Echo Park Lake clean-up project takes next big step

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By Mary A. Allen

The City Council’s  Energy and Environment Committee today approved the final environmental impact report for the Echo Park Lake rehabilitation without fanfare or discussion. The 1,200-page report, which lays out the plan for the $64.7 million clean up, now goes to the full City Council for a final vote within two weeks. It is expected to pass, clearing the way for work to begin on the project next year.

No one spoke in favor or against the proposal, which was approved without discussion within the first five minutes of the meeting as part of a batch of other agenda items.

According to Michelle Vargas, spokesperson from the Department of Public Works, “The Final EIR is a comprehensive, 1,200-page document that includes a project description and details of environmental impacts considered.  With active stakeholder engagement from pre-design to the scoping meeting and the draft EIR,  we were able to gather comments in various areas including wildlife impacts, cultural value, air quality, and many more.  These are incorporated in the EIR, and we are glad to get to this important point of our project design process.”

Voters passed Proposition O in 2004, which allowed the city to issue bonds funding water quality improvements. In 2006, Echo Park lake was identified as an impaired water body that could benefit significantly from rehabilitation with Prop O funds. The rehabilitation of Echo Park Lake  is but one of 32 water quality improvement projects funded by the bond measure.

Echo Park Lake was created  in about 1860 as a drinking water reservoir (Reservoir No. 4). Today it serves as a storm water and flood control detention basin. The water now contains unacceptable levels of “algae, ammonia, copper, eutrophic (low oxygen) conditions, lead, odor, PCBs, pH, and trash” according to the Prop O website. The lake will be drained and dredged in order to remove contaminants and to clean and replace the lake liner.

While the overall goal of the lake rehabilitation is to improve water quality, significant efforts are being made to enhance recreational use and improve wildlife habitat.

During the estimated two years of construction,  four temporary ponds that will be maintained within the site for passing migratory birds and other wildlife.  Fish and other aquatic species will be stocked under the supervision of California Department of Fish and Game.

Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2011. Subsequent Park maintenance is the responsibility of theDepartment of Parks and Recreation.Of the five council members on the committee, only Committee Chair Jan Perry and Paul Koretz were present during this morning’s vote.

Persons interested in following the report through the City Council can receive updates  via email alerts or RSS feed by accessing  LA City Clerk Connect.

Mary A. Allen is an Echo Park resident, writer and publisher of MetroMary.com


  1. Correction: The reservoir was built by the Los Angeles Canal and Reservoir Company in 1868.

  2. Scott,
    Thanks for the detail!
    Happy Thanksgiving,

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