In 1984, Echo Park Lake was drained and cleaned up in preparation for visitors from around the globe during the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Now, almost three decades later, LA’s most iconic lake is being emptied once again. This time Echo Park Lake, long considered the crown jewel among Los Angeles’ recreational lakes, will undergo a thorough restoration and revitalization project thanks to funds from Proposition O.

*Photo courtesy of Rich Alossi

Built in the 1860s as a drinking water reservoir, Echo Park Lake now functions primarily as a detention basin in the City’s storm drain system, while providing recreational benefits and wildlife habitat. Currently, polluted urban runoff drains into Echo Park Lake and eventually flows into the LA River and San Pedro Bay. A cleaner lake will ultimately mean a cleaner river and ocean. The surrounding park also plays host to numerous community events, such as the beloved annual Lotus Festival.

“The rehabilitation of Echo Park Lake will provide the Echo Park community with an improved and more sustainable lake to enjoy,” says Enrique C. Zaldivar, Bureau of Sanitation Director. “As an added benefit, the restoration of the lake allows the City of Los Angeles to reduce pollution in our local waterways and meet California water quality standards.”

In 2004, voters passed Proposition O, which allowed the City to fund water quality improvements through bonds. In 2006, Echo Park Lake was identified by the State of California as an impaired water body, and the City allocated $64.7 million in Proposition O funds towards its revitalization. The Echo Park Lake project is one of 32 water quality improvement projects that the City is funding through Proposition O. Other major projects include the creation of a wetlands park in South Los Angeles, the rehabilitation of Machado Lake in Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park and the upgrade of eight coastal low-flow diversions, which divert polluted urban runoff to the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation Project is now underway. Just after the Lotus Festival in mid-July, temporary fencing was installed around the lake, creating a safe and secure construction site for both contractors and community members. The contractor of the project also moved trailers on-site to house the field offices. The project is on track to be completed by Spring 2013.

If you frequent the park, you will notice a No Parking Zone along the west side of Echo Park Ave. from Park Ave. to the cross walk by the boathouse. The No Parking Zone will help the flow of traffic and ease congestion during the lake’s rehabilitation and will be enforced from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

During Echo Park Lake’s rehabilitation phase, you may want to consider visiting another one of Los Angeles’ beautiful lakes. A full listing of lakes can be found at the City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Park, Lakes Page.

All public questions or concerns regarding the Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation Project are encouraged. Please call (213) 978-0317 or e-mail and we’ll do our best to respond in a timely manner. And be sure to check out the City’s Echo Park Rehabilitation website for frequent updates on the project’s progress.