Lakes are important environmental systems and we as humans seldom acknowledge this fact. They are indispensable for the survival of wildlife, irrigation, provision of drinking water and other recreational activities. Most of our ‘once beautiful’ lakes are now victims of plastic and sewage. The restoration of these water bodies, although not easy, is extremely gratifying.
So, how does this process actually work?
Well, to explain it in simple terms, the lake that has been selected to undergo restoration work is studied thoroughly. Samples are collected from different points of the lake and the ecology of the lake is understood as well. These samples are sent to the lab and tested to identify exactly how polluted the lake is in terms of the chemicals and the sewage. The exact quantities of the pollutants are also identified.
Next, the lake is drained of water using pumps. This is preferably done in the summer months in India when the lakes are already dry as this is more economical. This water is let out through the natural channels of the lake into where it drains. Sometimes only some parts of the lake or a little bit of the lake is drained.
Next comes the desilting phase. What exactly is desilting?
It is the removal of silt from the soil beneath the lake. This silt is highly fertile and is used for constructing bunds around the lake. It is also used for island formation, which serves as the welcome ground for a variety of flora and fauna.
Finally, when the monsoon hits, the streams and channels which drain into the lake refill the lake to restore it to its previous state of glory. The lake could further be beautified by the construction of fences, benches walkways etc. to promote the public interest. The ultimate goal is for them to feel ownership towards the lake so they protect it. The whole process takes between 3 and 6 months.
At EFI we have volunteers coming in every week to clean the lake and free it of plastic. Typically purging a lake of its plastic usually takes about 3-6 weekends, depending on the size of the lake and the number of volunteers. Then the other phases of lake restoration begin.
By Snehaa S.