Construction on schedule at Echo Park Lake*

By Sam Temblador

After nearly a year of work, the $65 million clean up and reconstruction of Echo Park Lake is on schedule to be completed in May 2013, officials said  Tuesday night during a community update.  In addition to providing an update on construction, city officials also responded to concerns and complaints about blowing dust and respiratory problems as well as the future of the park’s wildlife once the lake is refilled and the project completed.

“The dirt’s so dry it’s going all over the place,” said Joyce Dillard, who added that it had been going on for weeks.

Project manager Kendrick Okuda replied that the contractor has “dust control measures in place,” which includes frequent watering of excavated dirt and muck to keep down the dust.  Okuda also disputed the contention that the dust might be contaminated. “It’s not contaminated…it’s just dust,” he said.

As part of the project,  29 trash cans and 25 new benches will be installed during reconstruction of the area surrounding the lake, Katherine Clark, a civil engineering associate with the program. To help solve the issue of waste build-up and pollution once the lake is refilled , two hydrodynamic separators,  which Okuda described as large, underground concrete cylinders, will be used to collect any waste that finds its way into the lake.

Okuda told  members of the community they should look forward to the new and much more aesthetically appealing lotus bed, which will be ready for installation this fall. The project team also plans on having the island in the middle of the lake lined with rocks or riprap and installing night-time lighting for the lake’s fountain.

Samuel Temblador is a  UCLA student from South L.A. interested in journalism and communications.

* Correction: A previous version of this story said the hydrodynamic separators would be above ground. That’s wrong. The separators will be located underground.


  1. Any word on how long until the noise subsides? Can it really last until May? It’s insufferable, 6 days out of the week and seems to only get louder.

    • What do you expect? They are doing heavy construction to a park/lake. I live on Glendale across from the lake. Stop complaining, it is not that bad. They never start in the early morning and do not work at nights. Would you rather them take longer and have that fence up more? It is not insufferable. I think you are exaggerating. If they were working nightshifts, you would have a valid point.

      • I do understand the source of the noise. I am genuinely curious if the jackhammering and other particularly heavy machinery is going to be present all the way until May 2013, or if there is a point where it will shift into a quieter phase.

        And yes, I’d trade an extra month or two of fence for quiet Saturdays.

  2. Look forward to completion. Miss walking around the lake.

  3. Was at last night’s mtg. Well–spoken by reps of agencies doing work. Am concerned and will be forever as no true (chemical/toxin) filtration will occur, just trash removed from inflow of storm runoff. Which means the same poisons that made present silt/mud toxic will continue to enter the lake when project is completed.

    Mgr. Fukuda repeated several times that “water quality will be monitored,” which is similar to saying we’re going to keep checking the San Pedro bay are near Cabrillo Beach for water quality but do nothing about the root causes.

    My personal campaign (echoing Vincent Montalvo, hope I spelled his name correctly) is for a sustainable, warm-water fishery. Echo Park Lake was the gem of LA lakes, and had (what now is) an unbelievable self-sustaining population of game fish: largemouth black bass, crappie, sunnies and green sunfish, bluegills, catfish and carp. The trout plantings of recent times are, IMHO, out of place. With California’s budget crisis I have to wonder how long trout, and the planned-for catfish plantings, will continue into the future.

    Best hope is for the self-sustaining fishery for catch-and-release angling. I am going to pitch Mr. Garcetti for his support for a youth fishing program — staffed with volunteers, with donated and hand-built equipment, all instruction free, barbless hooks only with all fish released as soon as possible. After pictures are taken.

    The project, according to the spokespeople last night, is on time and on budget. It appears it will come out at approximately 82 million dollars. You read that right.

    Stay tuned, stay on top of the project. From what I saw and heard last night it seems to be going well.

    • Catch and release? That only works when people in the area are well fed… we all know people will catch and grill.

    • I called the state “Fishing in the City” program to find out what the stocking program is for the lake. To start, after ensuring water quality, they plan to stock trout and catfish on a put-and-take basis for some period of time. Their eventual goal is to return to a black bass fishery.

      The best bet for a sustainable fishery in the long term is not catch-and-release. It’s actually active management, with adjustments in daily limits based on seasonal population surveys. Maintaining a fishery in an impoundment requires regular fish harvesting, either by managers with seines and electrofishing boats or by the general public with rod and reel. In order to allow people to take fish, the best case scenario would be “slot” limits on fish size (e.g. allow bass between 12″-14″ to be taken) to protect both the next generation of juvenile fish as well as the breeding stock.

      • P.S. Crappie is a really really bad idea in lakes smaller than 50 acres or so. Their reproduction rates vary an insane amount from year to year, and even with professional management are difficult to stop from overpopulating in undesirable (3-4″) numbers.

        • Vincent and I lobbied in mtg for a sustainable fishery based on C&R.

          Crappie were in there before believe they should return; they were one of the easy panfish for kids to catch, along with bluegills. Both species tend as you say to overpopulate wherever they live, but the lake I remember has bluegills and crappie of good size.

          Slot limits are a fine idea, when practiced on rivers where anglers are known to follow rules and enforcement of regs is present. Seriously doubt that will occur at EP lake.

          “…It’s actually active management, with adjustments in daily limits based on seasonal population surveys.” Appreciate your view and input, we’re talking urban reality.

          • Bluegills do not tend to overpopulate in impoundments. Bass do. Ponds that don’t cull bass will end up with thousands of 8″-9″ bass in very poor condition. A slot or even a max size for keepers would be key to developing a good fishery.

  4. Yay im glad to see they are doing the one thing I always wanted. A light in the fountain at night.

    • I believe the base of the previous fountain was defined by white plastic pipes. Very ugly. I always wondered whether the city used the same set up in fancier parts of town. Do you have any idea if visible plastic pipes are to be part of the new design? Thanks. .

  5. Glad to see there will be nighttime lighting around the lake! Was there a walking/jogging trail around the lake prior?

  6. lighted fountain=good idea

    deck over the water next to the boathouse with beergarden=even better idea

  7. @ryan, that’s not a far out idea — always thought (before draining and when boat house was on ropes — that if someone spruced it up and opened a coffee house it would kill.

    Could still happen.

  8. One small correction here: the hydrodynamic separators are underground and will not be visible. Hopefully, their affects – less trash in the lake – will be.

  9. Will we still be able to sit at the picnic tables and sell drugs?

  10. The separators will remove what flows in, but from long exp at lake — boyhood fishing to middle age strolling — what ends up in lake comes from uncaring people tossing away whatever they have in-hand, to the natural wind blowing in palm fronds to plastic bags.

    Then there was the sport invented by local boys of heaving in trash cans, traffic cones and park benches. New bench design was shown at mtg., no word on how they’re going to be secured to the earth.

  11. Vincent Montalvo

    I just want to let all you fisherman who have had the privliage to fish Echo Park Lake great fisherie that you need to attend a Propostion O meeting and give your support on bring back our warm water fisherie back up to the quality that it has always been. I worked with many great Fish And Game biologist over the years on Echo park lakes Large mouth bass fishery. Echo Park lake is capable of raising Bass well over the 10 pound mark. There were tons of Blue gills, crappie, green sunfish, and redears For our local youth to catch and to keep our large mouth bass full. Unfortonly like most of our inner city lakes they are turned in to put and take ponds where Trout is planted in the winter and channel catfish in planted during the summer. Echo Park Lake in my opinion the last great inner city Bass fishery that was self sustaning. I have spoken at every Propostion O Meeting about our fishery being returned back to our community. The Lake would attrack many community kids that would come right out of school and go straight home to get there fishing pole and then to the lake to see what the catch of the day would be.

    • Hear, hear.

      Turn off the Mac, put down the phone and pad — Echo Park Fishing Club coming people. Catch the fever.

    • I’ve fished echo park for many years before they drained it I’ve caught and released 3 large mouth over 8 pounds there …. The bass were healthy and strong as could be and during spawn times I saw on many occasions bass well over ten pounds bedding on the north east corner of the lake it will kill me to see largemouth not re enter this lake I wish I could post a picture on this forum of my catches from
      The lake

  12. I fished Echo park when i was a kid until i was about 16 ( 1960) it was agreat place! They had a warden back then his name was Carl, he would drive around the lake in a white sedan said warden on the door. Fishing was open to kids wednesday and saturday till noon only. No fishing at the deep end and they meant it, Carl caught me fishing there once and made me throw a 4 lb bass back in lake. They had a Tom Sawyer & Becky thatcher day and the lake would be jammed with people and awards for everything you could think of and alot more. In all those days i never had a problem there. Great memories!

  13. Big Pine, you remember well! Fishing was regulated, ranger on duty — first I’ve heard of his name, thanks — and no fishing in lily pads or what we all called ‘the deep end.’

    I think by the time I fished EP Lake the Tom Sawyer days had ended, about 1961?, but I’ve seen the pictures. Hope you can lend support to get the fishery back to what it was, the best urban lake in city limits.

  14. Is there a forum or EP fishing info on fish stockings, pics to post on catches etc…

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