18. Living Lakes

Thousands of fish lay belly up dead in Ulsoor Lake in India’s garden city, Bangalore. There was a bund separating sewage from fresh water. With the degradation of that bund, the oxygen levels fell and the fish died. Environmental degradation is destroying water bodies. There were 1000 lakes in Bangalore in the 80’s. Now there are only 200 lakes remaining. People go boating in the lake. They throw garbage into the lake. Apathy is the cause. How do we clean our water bodies of micro beads of plastic which enter our bodies through the food chain? Health, economics and ecology are all connected. People sometimes feel they have nothing to do with the environment. But we are interconnected. What we do to water we do to those we love. Take responsibility. Lake authorities are pumping in oxygen to help solve the problem. You start watching the lake.
A Lake is an asset. Monitor the health of the lake in your neighbourhood. Gujarat has made lakes difficult to encroach. There were so many warning signs on the lake: Water hyacinth, higher temperatures and now the fish dying. Lakes are converted into residential localities, untreated chemicals, cause irreversible damage. We cannot afford this. Dissolved content in water oxygen is below 4mg/litre. Over six hundred million litres of sewage flows into 3 lakes. Drains open into lakes. Increased untreated sewage from 14 industries around the lake and fast urbanization are obvious threats. We need the environment more than the environment needs us, let’s do something about it.
The Detroit River which serves as a link between Lake Huron and Lake Erie was estimated to dispose off more than 700 million gallons of waste water daily and 150 million pounds of toxic polychlorinated biphenyl’s yearly, into the Detroit River. Steps have been taken to manage this pollution because the source point has been identified. But there are non source contaminants that seeÆp in through small diffuse sources like agricultural fertilizers, pesticides and manure. Even tougher is acid rain and leaking from septic tanks. This is far more difficult to handle.
The world’s largest fresh water Baikal Lake, in Siberia, has a volume of 5523 cubic miles of water (23,000 cubic kilometres) or approximately 20% of the earth’s surface water! Lake Huron is the largest fresh water lake in the world with a total surface are of 45410 square miles (117,611 square kilometres). But in terms of volume, it is much smaller: 2030 cubic miles. The 25million year old Baikal Lake, is inhabited by over 2000 plants and animals. Over 40% of those life forms have not even been described yet! No wonder it is called the Galapagos of Russia. Over the last four decades the lake is becoming increasingly polluted.
Pollution of fresh water bodies not only makes water unfit for drinking, but also reduces recreational activities and reduces land value in the vicinity. Each of us as individuals needs to be aware and willing to spread the information about pollution. We also need to be aware of how our activities are affecting the landscape and all the millions of living creatures in that environment. We are responsible for our lakes and other water bodies.