All of  the Echo Lake neighborhood drains to Lake Ballinger, which then drains to Lake Washington, primarily along McAleer Creek.

Echo Lake itself is fed by three natural springs, plus the natural run-off.

The Echo Lake Neighborhood is actually in two watersheds:  The Lake Ballinger-McdAleer Creek Watershed, and the Thornton Creek Watershed.

The southern part of the neighborhood is in the Thornton Creek Watershed, which extends to Northgate.  The far northern extension runs along North and Northeast 185th Street, and extends from one to six blocks north into the south boundary of Echo Lake in an uneven line.

But most of the Echo Lake Neighborhood is in the Lake Ballinger - McAleer Creek Watershed.  Water enters Echo Lake via three small streams and run-off from the higher ground.  Water exits the lake through an underground culvert at the north of the lake, near the park, traveling underground and draining into Lake Ballinger.  During heavy weather events, the culvert does not always provide sufficient volume.  The culvert also gets blocked with debris, and neighbors have to keep it clear to keep the lake level from rising. 

Other parts of the Echo Lake neighborhood may drain directly to Lake Ballinger and east to tributary streams which feed into McAleer Creek and end up in Lake Washington.  A major tributary of McAleer Creek is in the Northridge area of Echo Lake neighborhood.  It was put underground years ago and turned into roads, one nicknamed "The Windy".  There is still a lot of surface water drainage in the area.

Health of the Lake

ELNA has always been concerned with the health of the lake.  Volunteers took water samples over the course of 15 years, for testing by King County.  The City of Shoreline took over the sampling on a regular basis, but volunteers still do so with frequency. We are pleased that the lake has almost always been within appropriate ranges.  One exception came when the area had a major issue with geese, which had stopped migrating because of the availability of food.  The year-round, increasing goose and duck populations were raising the levels of feces-borne contaminants.  Since the population has now been reduced and discouraged, the lake has consistently been at normal levels.

Other improvements to the health of the lake are a benefit from the redevelopment of the Gateway Shopping area and Sky Nursery.  Both of these projects installed filtration systems for water run-off from their sites, which meant that the water entering the lake from the south is free of major contaminants.  Aurora corridor project is completed past Echo Lake, with the street widened and access changed. The contaminants entering the lake from Aurora are now filtered and greatly reduced, using "rain gardens" and tree box filters. 

Property owners in the lake basin should be mindful of their contribution to the health of the lake.  Pesticides are certainly harmful, but so are foods given to plants and lawns because of the increased nitrogen levels.  Soap of any kind, whether environmentally friendly or not, is harmful to the lake waters.  People who wash their cars at home are requested to put the cars on the lawn when washing them, so the soapy water can be filtered through the ground before it reaches the lake. A better solution is to take the vehicles for a professional car wash.


Animals were here long before people moved in.  Some of them didn't leave when the trees were cut down, but managed to find enough habitat to stay.  They usually stay out of sight.  For more information, check the pages following this.

There is a fairly stable coyote population all over Shoreline.  Anywhere which has wooded areas or any land which is relatively uninhabited, probably has a coyote den or two.  We are aware of coyote dens around Echo Lake, in Holyrood Cemetery, and possibly in the Northridge ravine.  It is not advisable to leave pets out at night or to leave pet food outside -- and never put meat in your compost.

There are beavers in Ronald Bog and Twin Ponds but no evidence of them in Echo Lake.  All these bodies of water have turtle populations and the turtles are often seen resting on logs in and near the water.  Echo Lake has freshwater otters, which are also found in McAleer Creek in Lake Forest Park.  There are raccoons and possums.  Less attractive, there is a large rat population of several varieties, as well as field mice and shrew mice.  Squirrels abound, as do moles.

There are many species of birds, including mallards and coots, hummingbirds, chickadees, sparrows, herons and eagles, flickers, and the ubiquitous and very clever crow.

In 2010 Echo Lake Park, at North 200th and Ashworth Avenue North,  has been certified by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary, and as a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation.  The lake is a natural water source, with all the features necessary to support birds and other wildlife such as  food, water, shelter, and places to raise young without the need for man-made alternatives.

Next page Water and Wetlands