Environment Impacts of Urbanization on Lakes
Lakes are considered to be an important part of the urban ecosystem. They are relatively small in size, however performing significant environmental, social and economic functions, ranging from being a source of drinking water, recharging groundwater, acting as sponges to control flooding, supporting biodiversity and providing livelihoods. Also the water from the lakes acts as source for agriculture, domestic and industrial use. Lakes are of different types such as man-made or natural, fresh water or brackish playing vital role in maintaining environmental sustainability particularly in urban environments which are facing the challenges of unplanned rapid urbanization.
Threats to Lakes in urban areas
Some of the alarming threats to lakes are as follows:
There is an increasing level of urban population which however is not having enough civic facilities such as adequate infrastructure for the disposal of waste. Therefore, lakes become the dumping grounds for disposing untreated local sewage and solid waste.
There is an influx of population to urban areas and there is less availability of land to accommodate them. There if huge value for land and due to scarcity of land, water bodies such as lakes are looked upon as real estate. Deepor Beel Lake in Guwahati is a good example of encroachment.
Lakes are closed water bodies. Therefore, a large part of the substances that enter in the lakes become a permanent part of it. There is a rapid change in the in the lakes which leads to growth of unwanted weeds destroying ecology of the lakes.
Illegal Mining Activities
There is illegal mining carried out on the lakes for building material such as sand and stones. Surajkund lake in Haryana is an example of illegal mining activities.
Unplanned Tourism Activities
There is unplanned tourism activities as there is no systematic planning and regulation. There is no adequate facility to dump garbage which leads to lakes becoming dumping grounds. Therefore, adequate arrangements for sustainable tourism must be made in cities like Udaipur which is filled with lakes, Dal Lake in Srinagar, etc.
The local communities also use lakes for cultural or religious festivals such the immersion of idols. This also adds pollution to lakes.
Lakes are facing serious threats and challenges such as disposal of garbage, pollution, encroachment for land, etc. There is an urgent need to save the lakes.
It is recommended that there is better coordination among the government agencies which undertake lake and wetlands restoration and protection programmes. Also citizens must be made aware of the importance and benefits of lakes and wetlands in their lives. Finally, capacity building is very instrumental for better management of lakes.