Kingfisher Lake to be restored

2013-06-18 00:00

THE initial stages in rehabilitating the Kingfisher Lake at the National Botanical Gardens are finally under way.

South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) has appointed environmental consulting company GroundTruth to develop a rehabilitation plan for the lake. The ecological and environmental services of Berousse-James & Associates are assisting in getting authorisation for the project by doing an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the dredging and excavation of soil from the lake.

In the late 1980s, the Kingfisher Lake was made along the course of the Dorpspruit river, which runs through the Botanical Gardens. During heavy storms, lots of sediment and litter flows into the lake. It has not been dredged since its creation, and the build-up sediment has shallowed the lake allowing invasive aquatic plants to thrive. The reduced area of open water has impacted the diversity and numbers of water birds and dragonflies that frequent the gardens.

Barry James of Berousse-James & Associates said: “The rehabilitation of the lake is a relatively low-level project, thus we will be doing a basic EIA. This process involves public participation, where the public are notified … and invited to comment on the project. These comments are drafted into a basic report, which is sent to government.”

The government then has 40 days to comment on the report and it is then sent to the Department of Environmental Affairs for approval. This is done as dredging the lake does have a localised environmental impact. The public notification of the project has been placed in The Witness.

Simon Bruton of GroundTruth said although the dredging may have a localised impact during implementation, this will be managed. It is temporary and has long-term benefits.

“Dredging the lake is the untidy part of the rehabilitation, triggering the need for environmental authorisation and likely raising public eyebrows during implementation. But patrons of the gardens must take solace that the project will tackle the broader rehabilitation of the freshwater ecosystem of the botanical gardens holistically, to secure ecological integrity. We are developing a management plan to restore and improve the freshwater ecosystem. This will attract and increase the biodiversity in the area,” Bruton told The Witness.

A key part of the plan is to reduce the stress on the system, by putting in structures to reduce the sediment and litter build-up in the lake, while spreading water flows over a historic wetland habitat. The management plan will include all freshwater ecosystems within the gardens.

It is important that the public are aware of what is happening with the lake and why it is happening. “Most people don’t look at the back pages with the legal advertisements. We want the broader public to know what is happening and get their input as it will help make the report more credible. This is all being done to improve and beautify a very important asset to our town,” said James.

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