Cleaning the scum out of Echo Park Lake


ECHO PARK –– A job posting with the title “Echo Park Lake Muck Removal” is probably one that many people pass over. But not Van Robinson. He spent his summer removing algae, scum and and other debris from Echo Park Lake as well as the ponds and fountains of Beverly Hills estates. He wrote and took photos of the work for Vice’s First-Person Shooter series.

At Echo Park Lake, Robinson and other workers removed 150 milk crates of algae as well as a bike. “Pulling a whole bike out of Echo Park Lake was definitely the coolest thing,” he said.

Robinson, however, would not recommend the job to others.  “It was the worst two months of my life and I really just wanted some extra cash to go to Mexico.”


Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. I actually thought this article was referring to all the riff raff wandering around asking for spare change and stabbing innocent people.

  2. I actually thought this article was referring to all the yuppies wandering around evicting innocent people.

  3. Thanks to all the workers for skimming the Lake! Great work, it looks fantastic.

  4. I actually thought this article was referring to all the trust funders wandering around asking for cocaine and harassing innocent people.

    • If they have a trust fund would they be asking for cocaine instead of just buying it? Talk about clueless lol!

      • They are clueless to know how to score , just as you are cluelessto the throngs of über skinny poseurs actually asking people for cocaine at local bars – it happens .

  5. Why can’t LA have anything nice?! It always gets garbaged up.

  6. Hopefully they will focus on graffiti removal next. Most of the dumb tags have been there for months. It’s a shame that some people have such little respect for themselves and others they can resist writing on public property. If only they knew what low level of intelligence and lack of evolution that behavior displays.

  7. I do recall they promised us when insisting that we have all those wetlands covering so much of the lake, something a lot of people opposed, that it would prevent all the scum, and further that it would not make it fester. But, we have it anyway. So much for those “expert” assertions about how sparkly clean the lake would be if we would just over much of it in wetlands.

    Thanks for volunteering to clean it up, guys. Too bad the city has no other plan for keeping it clean other than free labor from volunteers. The city’s only plan to keep the lake clean seems to be to relay on those “expert” assertions.

    Meanwhile, something I haven’t heard others note, the water in there looks very unlike water. It looks like the lake if filled with dirty oil! Its black. Before the two-year project to refurbish the lake, the water looked just like this, except green in color. Now it is black. Where is the clear water, why aren’t those wetlands keeping it clean as promised, instead of as bad as ever? What is making it thick black?

  8. Who else thought the title referred to hipsters displacing ducks, geese and fish with their fancy houseboats?

  9. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen someone pouring oil into the lake from a gallon oil can. This happened several times last spring when I was there, at the north end of the lotus patch. The oil was visible on top of the water. A friend and I brought it to the attention of police who happened to be there there one of the times, and all they did was shrug and walk away.

  10. Weeds are all over lake at moment, but this is what happens in natural lakes when weather and water warms (“scum” too), so, EP Lake is actually doing what a lake should do.

    As far as color you may be “seeing the sky,” as lake’s water reflects the sky — unless you’ve taken water samples in a clear container then you cannot truly know the color of the water. BTW, it was Tahoe-blue-green from algaecide if you wondered. As far as the oil thing, I can’t say, but if it was intended to kill mosquito larva then it could be a positive. That’s an old technique for suffocating them (they rise to breath in surface film but cannot).

    I walk around picking up trash while running the Echo Park Fishing Club, always free for kids, hope others would too. Thanks all in advance.

  11. If you seen an ‘oily slick’ it may or may not be oil dropped into a lake, from Shoreland Mgt. site, Minnesota:

    What causes surface scum on a lake?

    There are various causes of surface scums on a lake or pond. Look more closely to determine what is on the water’s surface. An oily film or yellow-green dust on the surface of a lake make it look contaminated but, in most cases, nothing is wrong. In fact, something natural is probably occurring. An oily film in mid-summer may be caused by organic compounds from nearby wetlands, rotting vegetation, or insect cases that were concentrated along the shore by wind after a hatch. Insects can hatch at any time from ice-out in the spring until mid-September. As the insect cases decompose, they sometimes produce an oily film. Yellow-green dust floating on the surface in late spring and early summer is probably pollen from nearby trees. In contrast, a scum from an algal bloom is green to blue-green, might have an oily sheen that resembles a motor oil slick, and can form a thick, soupy mass on the surface of the water.

  12. And If anyone doesn’t know an important tidbit about our wonderful lake, it is pretty amazing — the lake is a part of LA’s urban runoff system, always and always will be. Imagine, it once was known as Reservoir #4. What falls on the streets, get washed down, is left on the pavement and streets around, well, guess where it goes due to gravity.

    The nice observation decks provide a great view and good info, but you are standing over outlets that release water from behind you from the surrounding neighborhoods, right into our fine lake.

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