Only 20 per cent of Dal lake water clean, claims study

BK Correspondent/Srinagar
July 5, 2017 CITY 329 Views
Only 20 per cent of Dal lake water clean, claims study

A study has claimed that only 20 percent of the water in Dal lake was relatively clean, citing unplanned urbanization , encroachment as main contributing factors.
The research titled ‘The long-term biophysical and demographic changes in Dal Lake’ by Dr Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, Head Department of Earth Sciences, Kashmir University reveals that “32% of the lake falls under severe degradation, 48% under medium degradation while as 20% of the lake waters are relatively clean.”
The lake which has shrunk from 31 to 24 sqkms from 1859 to 2014 faces multiple pressures from unplanned urbanization, high population growth, nutrient load from intensive agriculture and tourism, the research points out.
The study has analyzed the long-term biophysical and demographic changes in Dal Lake. “7 important water quality parameters from 82 well distributed sites across the lake were analysed and compared with the past data to determine the historical changes in the water quality from 1971-2014. The changes in the LULC and demography have adversely affected the pollution status of this pristine lake,” Dr Romshoo states in the research.
The study attributed the degradation of the Dal Lake to increased load of nutrients –mostly nitrogen and phosphorus – which act as fertilisers for weed growth in it.
The study also reveals that the built-up area within the lake has increased by 217 per cent since 1962, which together with the changes in the population and settlements, have led to the high discharge of untreated nutrient-rich sewage into the lake.
“Similarly the expansion of floating gardens within the lake and agriculture lands in the catchment, have contributed to the increased nutrient load into the lake due to the increasing use of fertilizers. The information about the existing land cover, demography and water quality was integrated and analyzed in GIS environment to identify the trophic status of the lake.”
The study further said, “Ortho-phosphate phosphorous concentration has increased from 16.75µgL-1 in 1977 to 45.78µgL-1 in 2014 and that of the nitrate-nitrogen from 365µgL-1 to 557µgL-1, indicating nutrient enrichment of the lake over the years.”
It is important to mention that during the period of unrest, a thick coat of red algae spread through a wide swathe of Dal lake. The algae, environmental experts claim, first emerged during August 1990 and had since been largely controlled however it is resurfacing now in a more virulent form. It not only points to the deteriorating health of an already stressed lake but also raises questions over the direction of conservation efforts.
Dal has been the focus of an intense recovery effort over the past three decades. The state and the central governments have followed twin strategies of conservation and rehabilitation to rejuvenate the lake’s ecosystem and to rid it of encroachment. The plan called the Dal-Nigeen Lake Conservation Project was drawn up in 2005.

Related articles