Lakes are important features of the earth’s landscape. They are not only a significant source of precious fresh water, but often provide valuable habitats to plants and animals, moderate the hydrological extreme events(drought and floods),influence microclimate, enhance the aesthetic beauty of the landscape and extend many recreational opportunities.
The lakes provide a wide diversity of values and uses ranging from ecological goods and services to direct production values. These can be categorized as direct use values with consumptive and non consumptive use such as drinking, irrigation, fishing, eco-tourism etc. Indirect use values such as water recharge / in flouncing microclimate with beneficiaries located away from the lake, and also potential future use and non-use social benefit of availability of a healthy water resource for future generation.
The different problems encountered in the lake, include excessive influx of sediments from the lake catchment, discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage and industrial waste waters/ solid waste disposal, entry of diffused source nutrients from agriculture and forestry, improper management of storm water/ combined with over adsorption, over-exploitation of lake for activities like recreation, fishing, encroachments, land reclamation resulting in lake shrinkage, shoreline erosion and impact on lake hydrology, deterioration in water quality and impact on bio diversity, climate change etc.
As part of the urban context, the role and use of the lakes assumes greater significance as they serve as passive recreational open space, urban bio diversity spots, ground water recharge. The operation and maintenance of urban lakes is a serious challenge faced by the owners of the lake. Though the location of the lake determines the ownership/jurisdiction, the components associated and their stakeholders for the urban lake management are many. The roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders of the lake operation & maintenance are very diverse and unclear. The actions that need to be taken up for the sustainable operation is also not clear as it crosses the defined boundaries of legalities / engineering / urban bio diversity / water management / land use management etc.
The Government of Karnataka and the various urban local bodies have rightly recognized the significance of lake restoration and have invested substantially in the past decade. The experiences are varied addressing the ground realities, nature of community participation and use of resources.
Sustainability in lake operation and maintenance require many actions to be carried out in a concerted manner, some of them to be considered in the planning and development of the lake itself. The emphasis of the workshop will be on the formulation of practices to strengthen the ecological structure of the urban lakes. There is now a growing recognition that engineering practices need to imbibe the ecological processes for arriving at the long term solutions. For instance, the notion of permanent water quantity residing in the lake, deep excavation/ de-silting, provision of revetments based on irrigation standards may need adaptation. The need for accommodating the birding habitats, wetlands and passive treatment of water need special attention. Many of these aspects require a comprehensive urban water shed and catchment intervention, involving land use planning and urban design.
The other aspect that is crucial for the operations and maintenance involve devising a suitable business model that can support the recurring expenses and upkeep of the water body. While dedicating the water bodies for ecological resources, many urban lakes offer potential for development of passive recreation as well as tourist attractions. A uniform approach to the lake management needs a re-look. A logical framework based on the ecological and the financial principles can be developed. The workshop will lend some directions within the social, legal and institutional context.
Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, popularly known as ‘Mysore Zoo’. It is one of the oldest zoos in the country established in the year 1892. The zoo is presently housing more than 1400 animals belonging to 168 species. It has the distinction of successful captive breeding of more than 150 species. Annual visitation is the highest in the country with more than 3 million foot falls recorded during the year 2011-12. The zoo also owns and manages the Karanji Lake, which is one of important emerging eco-tourist spots in the region. The lake is being maintained as nature conservation area with emphasis on bird conservation. It attracts numerous seasonal and migratory birds along with local birds.
Conservation is one of the important objectives of zoo. Mysore Zoo conducts various educational activities in order to convey the message of conservation of wildlife and its importance. Various activities like Youth Club for students and monthly Conservation Speak have captured the imagination of people involving in strengthening the conservation efforts of natural resources. Enhancing the knowledge and skills of institutions is as important as strengthening the knowledge & skills of an individual. As part of its endeavor to strengthen the conservation related activities, Mysore Zoo proposes to conduct two day work shop on issues relating to rejuvenation and management of urban lakes.
In this backdrop, the key concerns for the sustainable Operation and management of urban lakes/ water bodies need to be addressed in a systematic manner. A two day workshop is organized by the Mysore Zoo and Environmental Management & Policy Research Institute, Government of Karnataka, Bangalore in association with M/s.IDES Consulting Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore and M/s.Bhageerath, Mysore, on “Sustainable Management of Urban Water bodies”. The work shop is scheduled to be held on 17th & 18th December 2012 at Mysore Zoo.
The key output of the workshop is to enable the sharing of the knowledge on the practices and devise a document which can serve as manual for sustainable operation and management of the urban lakes.
The participants in the workshop include officials working in Urban Development Department, ULB’s, Urban Development Authority, Minor Irrigation, EMPRI, KSPCB, KUWS & DB, BWSSB, Forest Department Academicians and other stakeholders with hands on experience in the management of Urban water bodies.