Council allocates millions to clean up and restore Echo and Machado lakes

Times Staff Writer

Two landmark Los Angeles lakes will be cleaned up and restored with bond funding approved Wednesday by the City Council.

On a unanimous vote, the council allocated $58 million in Proposition O money for six water-quality projects, including $23 million to begin the cleanup of Echo Lake, north of downtown, and Lake Machado in Harbor City.

The council also set aside an additional $178 million for future phases of the two lake projects. Approved by Los Angeles voters in 2004, Proposition O authorizes the city to borrow up to $500 million to bring local waterways into compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.

Over the next five years, pollutants will be filtered out of both lakes -- long plagued by trash, sediment and urban runoff -- and bacteria will be restored to safe levels.


At Echo Lake, the water will be drained and engineers will create partial wetlands and rock formations to filter pollutants.

Machado, meanwhile, will be dredged, aerated and equipped with a freshwater marsh intended to capture trash before it flows into the lake.

Echo Lake and Lake Machado drain to area rivers and beaches. The idea is to clean the storm water before it flows to the sea.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose 15th District is home to Lake Machado, said the lake’s toxicity was so bad it may have killed one of its most famous visitors -- Reggie, a 7-foot alligator that was dumped in the lake in 2004 and eventually disappeared.


“Some people think his demise came from the toxic water in which he resided,” Hahn said.

The council Wednesday earmarked funding for four other projects, including Peck Park Canyon, where officials hope to restore a stream, reduce erosion and clean up water before it enters San Pedro Bay.