A monitoring device floats on Echo Park Lake to measure water quality

By BARRY LANK

Echo Park – When Echo Park Lake was drained in 2011 as part of a 2-year rehabilitation project, the main reason was to clean the water itself. Now that the park has been reopened for five years, how clean is the water now, and will it stay that way?

According to Heather Johnson of Los Angeles Sanitation, water quality scientists routinely take a little boat out into the middle of the lake. The boats collect instrument readings and gather water samples – measuring things such as pH, temperature, conductivity, clarity, chlorophyll and solids. There’s also a real-time monitoring system that records measurements every fifteen minutes for a centralized database, where they can be viewed in real time.

And so far, the results are good, Johnson said.

“One of the main drivers for cleaning up Echo Park Lake was that the lake had excessive nutrient concentrations (nitrogen and phosphorus) which stimulated algae growth and resulted in impaired water quality,” Johnson said. “Currently the lake is meeting water quality targets for nutrient concentrations and algae growth is being kept in check.”

Plus, other measures, including the dissolved oxygen, show the lake can support a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

“As the wetland plants continue to mature and become established,” Johnson said, “it is anticipated that water quality will continue to improve.”

Monitoring devices measure water quality every 15 minutes

The one fly in the ointment is money. The clean-up project was paid for mostly with funds from Proposition O – about $45 million.  Now, it’s up to the city to continue to allocate enough money to pay for ongoing water-quality monitoring and maintenance to keep the water clean.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who worked on the project as a council aide,  recently pledged to protect water-quality efforts when concern was raised about funds to maintain the lake’s wetlands.

The city’s sanitation department ” is working to ensure that Echo Park Lake is and will continue to be the jewel that it is,” said O’Farrell on Twitter. ” I worked too hard on the facility’s Prop O project to let the lake fall into disrepair.”

 

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