Project Staff: Ms H Fox, Mr AK Gordon, Dr WJ Muller
Project Duration: Renewed on an annual basis
Aims and Objectives
Boksburg Lake was once a popular and attractive public amenity. However, severe pollution of the lake, urban decay of the surrounding area and issues of poor personal safety have turned it into an unattractive place to visit.
The Boksburg Lake and Wetland Project is a community driven project aimed at creating partnerships between local residents, local industry and local government (Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM)). The goal is to make Boksburg Lake a safe and pleasant recreational resource for residents, a landscape feature of which the Municipality can be proud, and an ecological resource contributing to the long-term ecological sustainability of Boksburg Lake's catchment and downstream water course.
Over the past four years, funding from Unilever has led to the development of an integrated water quality management plan (IWQMP) which has provided guidance and structure to the project, identifying problems affecting the lake and wetland and suggesting solutions. An ongoing goal of the project has been to encourage the EMM to adopt and implement the IWQMP. Progress was made toward achieving this goal when the project was listed as one of the Mayoral Projects in 2007 and allocated a budget of R1.4 million. Over the last four years the project has also been building up a database of information regarding the lake and wetland's ecological integrity. This information will support the decisions made in implementing the IWQMP and provide a benchmark against which to measure the success of remedial tasks undertaken.
Objectives for 2008/09 were to:
- Continue to facilitate the implementation of the IWQMP for Boksburg Lake and Wetland (and overall improvement of the lake and wetland areas) through participation with Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, local industry and other interested stakeholders.
- Develop an environmental education strategy that focuses on urban water ecosystems with the goal of generating enthusiasm and a groundswell of support for effective implementation of urban catchment management within Boksburg.
- Continue water quality and biological monitoring in order to build up baseline information for the lake and wetland in order to monitor the effects of any rehabilitation undertaken.
- Co-ordinate the efforts of stakeholders by identifying individual roles and objectives, and monitoring progress in achieving these.
The EMM have begun to fully embrace the goals of this project and have become significantly involved. In addition to the R1.4 million budgeted by EMM for various remedial actions in 2007, R24 million has now been allocated to remedial tasks such as dredging the lake of noxious sludge and installing litter and sediment traps and aerators. Progress on these various tasks is at different stages of development: an investigation of how to remove the sludge is underway, while the EIA for the litter and sediment traps is complete and installation scheduled to begin. An investigation of the most applicable aerators for the Boksburg Lake situation is underway. EMM have also commissioned a landscape architect to redesign the park around Boksburg Lake (funding for achieving the architect's vision is still to be obtained however). Consequently, the EMM are driving the remediation process of the lake and park and have thus provided us with an opportunity to focus our attention on developing enthusiasm and a groundswell of support form local residents for effective management of the Boksburg Lake catchment.
The environmental education strategy, being guided by Helen Fox, shows great promise. The premise behind the concept is that effective water resource management requires responsible citizens. In the first instance the focus of the strategy will be on school children. The aims of the strategy are to: connect children with their natural world and inspire a high value of and care for the natural environment; teach children about water ecosystems within urban water catchments (about the ecological processes involved and how human activities threaten these systems); and generate a groundswell of support and action around the improvement of Boksburg Lake. A resource book on urban water catchments, specifically tailored for the East Rand is being developed for 15 schools within the Boksburg area. This learning resource is being designed to guide investigation into the problems affecting Boksburg Lake, encourage positive action to tackle these problems, and catalyse the whole community into supporting the vision to reclaim the lake. A workshop, on how to implement the resource book will be undertaken with teachers and key stakeholders, at the beginning of 2009. The official launch of Boksburg Lake Environmental Education Programme will be in March 2009, where after the resource book will be taught in the curriculum, by all the participating schools, during the 'Boksburg Lake Week'. From this we envisage many practical enquiry activities and action projects, from the participating schools, to improve the situation at the lake and catalyse the wider community to act.
Monthly water chemistry data and twice yearly biological survey data of the lake continue to be collated and have been uploaded to the World Water Monitoring Day website. It is intended that this data be archived to allow the assessment of the rehabilitation efforts being undertaken.
There is continued involvement from a wide variety of stakeholders: EMM collaboration (both in terms of water quality and environmental education); media involvement from the Boksburg Advertiser; NGOs like WESSA; industry (Unilever and ERWAT); and local residents from the various schools within Boksburg.