Everybody out of the water! Swimming still not allowed in Echo Park Lake

Taking a dip into Echo Park Lake/Christopher Kostrzak/Eastsider Flickr Pool

Men standing in the water by the Echo Park Lake Lotus Bed/Walter Martinez

Who can resist taking a refreshing dip into a pool of crystal blue water on a hot day? But what if that pool of water is Echo Park Lake?  Despite the presence of   “No Swimming” and “No Diving” signs,  many kids and adults have been spotted standing, splashing and swimming in the lake and its aquamarine waters, courtesy of a temporary dye job, since it reopened on Saturday.

The sight of swimmers in Echo Park Lake has worried some people for a variety of reasons, ranging from the safety of swimmers (there are no lifeguards present) to the safety of ducks. A boat ramp in the northwest corner of the lake has made it easy to wade into the water near the replanted Lotus Bed, where Walter Martinez on Monday saw kids and adults in the water. One pair of men were seen standing on a submerged wall near the lotus blossoms.

“I grew up in Echo Park, and I’m ecstatic about the lake reopening, but I don’t [think] people should be going into the water because it’s not that kind of lake, especially when the ducks and other avian life return,” said Martinez.  “I don’t want to be a grouch about it. I understand that people are trying to have fun and enjoy themselves, but there are signs around the lake about swimming and going into the water for a reason.”

Recreation and Parks Department spokeswoman Andrea Epstein repeated the rules that some Echo Park Lake visitors have ignored “No swimming or diving permitted!”

The dying of the water, part of a treatment to control algae and provide nutrients for aquatic plants, has also raised questions about the safety of the water.  “I think people are overly enthused,” Echo Park neighborhood council president Ari Bessendorf told Echo Park Patch,  “but the lake is not for swimming.”


  1. It’ll be months before the lake is trashed again. Very unfortunate, but predictable.

  2. Echo Park resident

    Really wish there was some leftover money for a security guard to patrol the lake to make sure this doesn’t keep happening. The picture of the dudes standing in the lotus bed really upsets me. I love the new lake and want it to stay clean and beautiful like it was last weekend. The more people ignore the rules, the less likely the Lake and it’s many renovations will survive.

    • Grahm Wellington

      Everyone must adopt the attitude of “see something say something”. if you someone letting their kids swim, remind them of the chemical fertilizer.

      The police are not going to enforce the rules, there is no money for a security guard because of our idiot short sided politicians. So it is up to us to enforce the rules.

      Be nice but be firm. Don’t allow dumb people to ruin our park.

      • Great Reply! I think it is up to us to police our own neighborhoods. I’m not saying tackle a group of kids vandalizing the park, but if you see someone IN the lake, tell them to GET OUT! There are plenty of signs posted, that clearly state the rules & LAMC codes that they can be cited for. If they refuse, call LAPD: 800-ASK-LAPD (non-emergency). Not only are we protecting our parks and our keeping our neighborhood beautiful, but we may just be preventing a drowning. There are no lifeguards at the Lake.

  3. We spent part of the day this week pulling wrappers, paper trash around the edge of the lake. It’s only been open 5 days. This could become an extremely disappointing situation.

  4. I was there on Sunday, the day after the re-opening. I grew up near Echo Park as well, and have many fond memories of the park as a child and into adulthood. I was dismayed by the blatant disregard of the clearly posted rules for enjoying the park. I could not believe that while I was there, in a period of perhaps an hour or so, I saw people on bikes in the park – NO BICYCLING!, people fishing – NO FISHING!, people smoking – NO SMOKING (in any city park)!, and now, people wanting to swim in the lake – NO SWIMMING!

    All signs are clear, and some even in Spanish. So, I cannot understand for the life of me the sure stupidity of people in not wanting to follow the rules for enjoying and keeping the park and lake safe and clean for posterity. Is it that they do not understand the value of the gem that is Echo Park historically and environmentally? What?

    The park belongs to the community and is there to be enjoyed by ALL the community at a most recent cost of over $45,000,000.00 It is time that the community take a firm stand in safeguarding to park and policing those that have no sense of pride in themselves or community and are determined to ruin it for everyone else.

    That was only on day two. It worries, saddens, and incenses me to think of what may lie down the road for Echo Park.

    • I agree with you H Ferguson – people still try and bend the rule for instant gratification. It is all about THEM. Just wait until somebody drowns in the lake and see what kind of hell they will be raising. Sometimes people are so stupid.

    • People don’t always read (or even see) the signs, unfortunately. I wasn’t there last weekend, but I imagine there was a lot of excitement! had there been docents, abmassadors, or some sort of volunteers, as someone suggested in a comments elsewhere, who could give friendly and gentle reminders, it would have set a good tone for the reopened park.

    • @ HFerguson, you wrote/vented: “…That was only on day two. It worries, saddens, and incenses me to think of what may lie down the road for Echo Park…”. We hear you, we’re all concerned in our own ways. But try to keep a level head. I love the park and lake too, it’s a big part of my life as an Angeleno, then as a boy, now as an adult EP resident and I share you concern. But.

      Let’s keep our heads level and not go to war over the park.

      Use proper channels, take personal respon., avoid the direct confrontation, don’t go racial (like the unfortunate commenter here).

    • Fishing is permitted. Did I miss something? The City replenishes the fish in the Lake specifically so that people could fish. This was always part of the plan for the Lake. Always. You are not being completely accurate about the rules regarding usage of the Lake. I agree, swimming is stupid. But the Lake is meant to be enjoyed. Chill out. It was fine before and it will be fine now as long as *most* of us remain vigilant and respectful and actually try to *accurately* read the rules regarding usage.

      • Echo Park resident

        Fishing is actually not allowed. There are many signs posted around the lakebed stating such. There are also no fish in the new lake.

        • Fishing is allowed! and those signs don’t mean anything unless they are stamped with a city ordinance number on them, which they are not. and it doesn’t matter even with the signs since there is no one to enforce them…

          I will personally see it through that those signs are illegal and will come down soon. I have already contacted all the nessesary departments about this and it is only a matter of time. I can wait while the lake aclamates during thiis time. the fiish can’t be in this blue stone water anyways. the only fish there right now is mosquito fish to keep the mosquitos in check.

        • I think what the current signs mean is, “no fishing just yet”. I think the lake has to be restocked.

    • Fergie, what are you babbling about? Fishing had always been permitted. Apparently, you are not long time resident , like most of these posters. Doesn’t anyone remember Tom Sawyer/becky thatcher Days at the park? I was there when a local guy caught a 30 pound catfish. Dude, I just hope the yuppies( who probably killed the original lotus beds) don’t impose their misguided will on this lovely place. Long time residents will not stand for it.

  5. i not only went swimming, but took a big fat shit in the lake as well. u gotta live life man.

    • Stupid peoples comments

      yeah why dont you let me take a big fat shit at your place and tell you the same thing, I msure you wouldn’t mind

  6. I was there on Sunday I saw kids and adults swimming in the lake near the lotus plants . Eventually the cops showed up to tell them not to swim. There were bikes riding , skits boarding, rude kids running through the plants and stepping all over them,graffiti on some bench . ,lose dogs and dog shit on the grass area and trash pile up.Very disappoint ing these people don’t give a shit about the laws and no respect of what it cause to make the park nice and clean. I hope the park stay clean and not be destroy I would like to continue visiting has a nice trail for walking. need security . , but the city don’t have no money to hire.

    • They will not be happy until they turn into a cesspool, once again. It’s the culture.

      • excuse me venicementor… “they” and “it’s the culture”. can you be a little more honest and just say you are being racist?

        and i mean “racist” whether you are referring to white hipsters or latino immigrants. or whoever else you mean by “they”. but, bless your heart, i believe you are talking about our south-of-the-border neighbors in echo park.

        now if we want to generalize, i’ve found in my travels that generally it’s whitey who loves bodies of freshwater. i’m a brown person myself (half indian and half mexican, born in massachusetts and raised in echo park for the past 40 years, MFA from USC) married to a lovely irish-american dude from alabama. and even he (as well as many of my brownish friends) concur with that generalization.

        i will also admit that i was one of those folks upset about the illegality of ducks being fed. but never in my life was i interested in swimming in that artificial lake, nor did i believe that anyone should (with a functioning pool just across the street for many years) but i digress.

        i generally don’t respond any further to threads or get into insignificant flame wars (trying to use my time a little more productively if i can — it’s a challenge), but i will sometimes speak out against such intolerant little jabs. although i understand where you may be coming from: it’s merely your culture that makes you prone to such ignorant comments.

        • As a long term EP resident and white on the outside, is it interesting the the folks photographed swimming in yonder lake happen to appear white.

          There will always be inconsiderate, ignorant and silly people of all ethnicities.

          Some of these comments should just roll like….water off a ducks back.

        • When was it ever a cesspool? Go soak your head is a cesspool, dude….

  7. I was at the lake on Monday early evening and saw some kids in the water. I was so upset at them, that i told them that someone called the cops and they are on one their way. They quickly got out. I know, it was wrong of me to lie, but jimini crikets people – NO SWIMMING

  8. Let’s face it, a lot of people suck when it comes to any sense of personal responsibility.

    • @wildstar, I agree with you. But.

      I have to say the personal pride I’m seeing first-hand (I’m visiting the lake three times in a day, taking pics and speaking with visitors) is a good thing.

      After agreeing that personal responsibility is key , have to stay on the posititive — there are a lot out there practicing fine per respon.

  9. I like people caring for our restored lake, but let’s take it down a notch and calm down.

    The water right now is def not normal, “dyed” is partially correct because yes there is color but am fairly certain the base substance is an algaecide to take out the growth that was beginning prior to Saturday opening. Have to hope it isn’t harmful to mammal life. Like us.

    I was just at the park not 10 mins. ago and encountered two groups of Dream Center clean workers, volunteers who traveled all the way from MONTANA to help clean the park. I think we’re in good hands; with neighborhood types like myself who are also picking up litter.

    Young dudes walking on the underwater barriers was predictable. It is now possible to traverse the entire east-west axis of the lake doing this. Not recommending it, just saying it is poss and will happen. In the future peeps will find that algae on the concrete makes for slippery footing. I know this, broke my ankle fly-fishing on slippery rocks on the Upper Sac.

    The bike thing should be stopped, wish a guard could monitor. Fishing is returning in the future, I’ll be around to monitor that and lend advice.

    I’m glad everyone up in arms, but need to say that yes, t’s up to all of us to keep an eye on the sit and please stay calm. Let’s not make the great, new lake and park a battleground either here on on-location.

  10. The Cheeseburger

    Yea we really need patrol here, between yesterday and today, I saw a man, his wife and 2 kids using a net trying to catch stuff in the lake. I approached them to let them know that this is not acceptable. I told him by him breaking the rules in front of his kids, his kids will be sure to break the rules as well. I told him to set a better example. I then pointed out the concrete sign he was standing 1 foot away from. Many people on bicycles, and skateboards. Obviously the signs need to be posted in more areas.

  11. Wait until the first moron drowns and their family sues the City of Los Angeles, that we can ALL once agin pay for, and demands that a high fence be erected around the lake.

    Make the fines hefty and print the signs if every language spoken in the community – oh yes, and teach some of the morons to read them.

    • Lots of people have drowned in the lake, and as far as I know no one has sued. When I was a kid, three men died when their canoe rolled over.

  12. Sorry, corrected, writing too fast:

    I like people caring for our restored lake, but let’s take it down a notch and calm down.

    The water right now is def not normal, “dyed” is partially correct because yes there is color but am fairly certain the base substance is an algaecide to take out the growth that was beginning prior to Saturday opening. Have to hope it isn’t harmful to mammal life. Like us.

    I was just at the park 10 mins. ago and encountered two groups of Dream Center cleanup workers, volunteers who traveled all the way from the state of MONTANA to help clean the park. I think we’re in good hands; with your care and with neighborhood types like myself who are also picking up litter.

    Young dudes walking on the underwater barriers was predictable. It is now possible to traverse the entire east-west axis of the lake doing this. Not recommending it, just saying it is poss and will happen. In the future peeps will find that algae on the concrete makes for slippery footing. I know this, broke my ankle fly-fishing on slippery rocks on the Upper Sac.

    The bike thing should be stopped, wish a guard could monitor. Fishing is returning in the future, I’ll be around to monitor that and lend advice.

    I’m glad everyone is up in arms, but need to say that yes it’s up to all of us to keep an eye on the sit but let’s stay calm about it.

    Let’s not make the great new lake and park a battleground either here or there. Please.

  13. I don’t really get why people can’t swim in bodies of water. Swimming seems like it would breed a healthy interest in the lake, keeping water quality up, keeping it safe for families. It would be nice if local kids could go for a swim on a hot day in their local spot. Is it because water quality for swimming would be impossible to maintain because it’s not a true lake and people could get sick?

    • People could get sick. Also injured. Also it could pollute the lake and harm the plants and waterfowl. Plus then they would need to hire lifeguards. It opens the city up to a ton of liability thy just don’t want and can’t afford. I understand the temptation but there’s the echo park pool just a few blocks away.

      • Really? has it right — the problems would be immediate and poss deadly. Af American fellow recently went under in a pool sit with four lifeguards on duty. How could a lake like EP (even if a swimming area were roped off) be guarded? Just no way.

        There would be the fecal bacteria to deal with — remember, the lake is part of LA’s storm runoff system, whatever upstream goes in and thru — chem toxins, dog poo, people poo, etc. What about broken glass on the lake bottom and banks? What about fishers casting large treble hooks?

        The lake is not designed to be entered. Use a real swimming pool.

  14. Ok ms. sgee, good statement regarding swimming in the lake, but OMG just think what fish do in that water!

  15. It’s our self-centered society. And when you confront them it’s “So what’s it to you” or “So what you gonna do about it” — I see it on a small scale at the townhome I just bought here in EP with our visitors parking spots even though each unit has a 2 car garage. A dude who is clearly not handicapped, nor has plates or tags, parks in the handicapped parking spot everyday overnight, like he owns it. Some twenty something woman parks everyday overnight in another visitor spot again like she owns it. Neither considering that they should keep it open for the entire community living here since there are so few spots.. Then there’s my peeve of dog shit (and I own a dog).. Some one’s dog took a shit 5 feet in front of the dog station that has the disposable dog bags. Right in front of the place to dispose of it and it was not out of bags. Lazy muther fucker. How hard is it.. In order for all of us to live together we just need to follow some set of reasonable guidelines.. ugh

  16. Hey man don’t you know lakes are just for looking at and what the heck you might scare the wild life after all they own the lake. You want to swim in a lake go to where you can legally, so what if you can barely afford bus fare and much less food, that’s your own fault according to most ignorant well to doers, oh I forgot to throw in a dash of mean spirited prejudice. We might help you but your not Beverly Hills or any place of any consequence. You heard the man your basically lower than that stuff on the bottom of their shoe and not worth the effort of well anything but to clean their toilets. Hope God isn’t like that. I’m saying maybe there is a way to accommodate swimming and ” ducks “. But not with a lot of these negative waves man.

    • Geeze, feed the stereotypes, why don’t you? Because we all knw that every single white person who lives here is rich, mean, and only cares about gentrifying this neighborhood in which he or she has no business living. And of course, all Hispanics in Echo Park are dirt poor and just trying to provide for their huge families. These arguments are so tired.
      I’m far from rich, and I don’t have air conditioning, but never once have I thought about taking a dip in Echo Park lake.
      The “no swimming” rule exists because it’s unsafe and unsanitary to swim in this particular body of water. So yes, go swim where it’s legal.

  17. The most important part is if there still gay cruising going on at night???

    Oh and…
    Is there anything on the signs about that?

  18. Is the pool across the street open?

  19. millions of $ to revamp a lake, what’s going to “revamp” the mentality of the ppl? give it a few months b4 lake gets trashed again 🙁

  20. So much pride in the newly restored lake as well as frustration here. I think I’ll take a small plastic bag each time I visit and pick up a little trash. I know that sounds overly virtuous, but it’s the only way to keep from feeling powerless. And it sets a good example. There’ll be more folks maintaining than destroying, I’m sure.

    • Grahm Wellington

      It’s not overly virtuous. In fact it will be a necessary duty for all of us. I was there this morning. I picked up all the trash I could see. Mostly candy/ gum wrappers and juice pouches. I’d guess from kids that need more guidance…

      I saw a dog owner start to walk away from his dog’s recent evacuation. I simply walked up to him and politely said “Oh, looks like you are out of poop bags- happens to me sometimes too” handed the bag over and walked away. He picked up his poo and I think he will be less likely to replicate the behavior. Especially in the park.

      It is our park, let’s work together to maintain it.

  21. I have been walking twice a day at the new and improved beautiful lake & have thought to bring a nettted pool cleaner (broom) but I don’t want to become the neighborhood weirdo.

    • Stupid peoples comments

      the day I see you with a broom or a pool net, I will join you. it takes but a few to make a diffrence for the future. actions speak louder then words, why would you be affraid of what others think? look at this thread of people’s comments, more then half of them don’t even know what the hell is really going on. because they really don’t care any how to do their own research, they come here post their stupid questions or comments like as if they actually contributeing something and are actually ok with that in their minds.

      • all you did was to “contribute ” is to call everyone stupid. then said you’d use a pool net the day I did but then lectured about how actions speak louder than words.

  22. Why can’t the city just train some volunteers on the rules and let them wear official Echo Park Visitor Guide shirts. Whenever they visit the park. I’m sure there are enough people who would volunteer. Or what about a security guard kickstarter fund campaign or some combination of both. The Park could be an absolute boon to everyone.

    If anyone has any idea how to organize something like this please post it hear. I’ll attend. Also I noticed its all complaining here. Why not DO SOMETHING! I challenge all the whiners to organize. Who’s in?

    • @ Mike….Now would be a verrrry good time to speak to the Rec Center Director about restarting the EP PAB (Park Advisory Board),that would be the first place to start. There is a new director……they change so often…But a call to 311 should get you to the correct person!


  23. Those kids obviously haven’t seen “Alligator2”.

  24. Is the lake filled with reclaimed sewage water ?
    Who would want to swim in that water let alone swallow that water!

  25. So it didnt occur to the park planners to add some type of water feature that people could play in.

    • @Lynne/Rollers — no, no ‘water feature’ on land or off was in plans, and for good reasons. There are pools nearby for that.

      Not ‘reclaimed sewage water’ — you might be thinking of the waste treatment water used for the Japanese garden in Van Nuys, or other muni sit where such water is used. Far as I know, it’s never used for contact-to-human purposes.

      EP Lake is part of central LA’s runoff system. That being said: “Whatever runs off the street may wind up in EP Lake.”

  26. How many people are at the lake these days? Show us what you can do to improve the parks situation, lead by example and maybe we will take you seriously. Everyone’s shit stinks, show me one that doesn’t and we will let him cast the first stone at us! Get right or get left, it isn’t over for me! This isn’t duck dynasty, it’s Echo Park Lake, ain’t no gators in the lake fool!

  27. Ecoli levels can get pretty high in freshwater natural lakes in colder environs. I think the Echo Park levels could get pretty scary!

    • The levels in the old lake were indeed ‘pretty scary,’ and what had settled onto/into the bottom. It will be cleaner than in the past, but we must realize it is not a natural lake, it has no true inflow and outflow like a natural stream that enters and exits a Sierran lake — but it’s better than before.

      Water is recirculating from south-to-north, and the system (with bubblers about the lakebed) and in-water planted ‘wetlands’ will probably keep the (general) lake water cleaner than we’ve ever seen. I’m keenly interested in seeing how things develop over the years.

      Heck, I’ve been watching the damn lake all my life. This is like a new movie, set in an old, familiar place.

  28. The first time they drained the lake, I guess it was the 80s, I spent a lot of time looking for stuff in the muck. My friends had found several old Coke and soft drink bottles( many over 100 years old), and a fella found a real operating brass submarine 80 years old while another fella found a skeleton in MacArthur Park lake when it was drained years earlier, so I figured, Echo Park Lake was only a few years younger and I should be able to find good stuff. And indeed, I did find several old bottles, some going back 80 years, as well as the frame of a revolver, tin signs, and some coins. There was a guy out there who found a Coke bottle that turned out to be worth over $2000. I did find some flat sided Coke bottles, but nothing that rare. And though I found no brass submarines, I did find a pond boat that sunk in the 30s. It still had the broken string on it.

  29. I remember some college or club guys tried rowing a 4-man racing shell on the lake, and they accidentally hit a sunken chain. Ripped their boat up pretty bad. One night, around 1976, me, the Dreaded Carlos and Mohave Mike snuk onto the lake in one of those cheap surplus yellow rafts we bought at the Supply Sergeant on Sunset. We floated around the lake smoking weed and drinking Seagrams, looking at the stars and philosophizing about weed, movies and women. After a while, we noticed some air loss, and a few minutes after that, the air loss became more pronounced. It was really deflating fast and we’re in the middle of the lake so we paddle like hell to the lighthouse landing, but Mohave Mike, he was so messed up, drops his paddle overboard, and I guess it floated, but it floated away from us. So now we’re rowing in a circle like the three stooges. Lucky for us, our momentum took us over by the big chain, so we just grabbed it and walked to the shore, dragging the raft, which was totally deflated, behind us. If you ever see a “Korea War era raft, NOS” for sale at your local surplus place, I’d say, keep on walking.

  30. Hey, they should have a grand reopening concert at the lake. Invite some Mariachis, Polynesians, Filipino dancers, local garage bands and the Flogging Molly’s. Remember that dude that used to play accordion in front of the original Pioneer Market? No, he’s probably gone, or be 110 years old. But someone like him.

  31. Great point brought up above… If they just stocked the lake with Crocodiles, swimming problem averted.

  32. I mean if you guys want I could just get my security outfit on and holler people out of there.

    It really bugs me seeing people in the lake. The ramp was always for the ducks and while the ducks are gone there’s kids going in the lake, and parents supporting. Yet only once they have blocked that entry. -.- I don’t care how big the filter is, and these people are new and think its totally fine. It’s a tradition, stay out of the water.

    • I agree. Its usually the newer people, new latino and asian immigrants, homeless or yipsters stoned on absinthe that will take a dip in the lake. Its unhealthy because of the myriad microorganisms, and once the algae starts to form, it will be unsafe. Maybe a dozen drownings since the 60s. But swimming was never a problem even before they drained it. We would sneak onto the lake in rafts or kayaks after midnight during the 70s-80s, but we would never touch the bottom mucky stuff with out feet or go swimming.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *