North End Lake to get worse before it gets better

2015-11-18 06:00
Rhino Water MD Sarel Bam (left) and Charlie Hopkins of Cool Technology oversee the “bioremediation” of North End Lake. Over the next three months a special eco-friendly solution will be pumped into the lake to rid it of pollutants, making it swimmer-

Rhino Water MD Sarel Bam (left) and Charlie Hopkins of Cool Technology oversee the “bioremediation” of North End Lake. Over the next three months a special eco-friendly solution will be pumped into the lake to rid it of pollutants, making it swimmer-

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THE polluted North End Lake in downtown Port Elizabeth is about to look even worse, with a thin layer of dirty sludge set to appear along the water surface in the coming weeks.

That, though, is the good news, as it signals the long-awaited clean-up of a major water sports attraction in the region – a move heralded by water sports bodies in the city.

According to Sarel Bam, director of Rhino Water, the company charged with the natural rehabilitation of the water body, an advanced open water treatment solution will be dosed into the lake over the course of the next two to three months.

Initial dosing started on November 5.

The term for the clean-up is “bioremediation” – defined as “any process that uses micro-organisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes to return the natural environment altered by contaminants to its original condition,” Bam said.

The product, supplied by George-based water treatment specialists, Cool Technology, using patented technology from US company Blue Planet LLC, will result in the polluted sludge in the lake gradually lifting to the surface, explained Bam.

This, he said, would form a thin sludge-like film on the surface of the lake, which would decompose rapidly.

This process will continue until all sludge at the bottom of the lake has been digested. Among the case studies for the North End Lake clean-up was a retention pond in Penang, Malaysia, which was turned from polluted eyesore to welcome tourist attraction through the bioremediation process.

Bam said the anticipated effect of the bioremediation included that:

•Sludge will surface and then digest;

•Sludge will drift with the wind and accumulate against the bank of lake;

•The colour of water will change frequently; and

•The lake appearance will improve and deteriorate cyclically until bio-remediation is complete.

“It is important that the clean-up process is all natural; that it is not harmful to humans or aquatic life and that it enhances the environment,” said Bam. “Finding unique solutions to challenging problems such as this is what we strive for at Rhino Water.”

The clean-up, which is rolling out under the watchful eye of NMB Stadium operators Access Management, has seen gabions and reed bed systems constructed at the various water entry points around the lake, to filter debris and prevent it from reaching the lake.

According to owner of regional sports company Zsports Events NPC, Michael Zoetmulder, the clean-up is a major boost for sports enthusiasts, as well as for sports tourism in the region.

“We have been a campaigner of North End Lake as a top water sports venue for many years,” Zoetmulder said.

“We are confident that a clean North End Lake will become the country’s premier water sports venue and to this effect, together with Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics and Access Management, Zsports Events NPC is trying to secure a three-year contract to host a leg of the World 10km Open Water Swimming Championship – a first for Africa.”

Canoeing, sailing, wakeboarding, powerboats, stand-up paddling, triathlon and open water swimming are just some of the water sport activities which would benefit massively once the lake has been cleaned, he said.

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