Friday, May 27, 2016

A day at the lake

Today we set out early on the road to Lake Jakkur where we met up with Avinash, a water expert that works with Akvo.
Today we set out early on the road to Lake Jakkur where we met up with Avinash, a water expert that works with Akvo. Before beginning our walk around the lake we learned a little bit about the history of the lake from Avinash. In recent years, Lake Jakkur has undergone the process of urbanization so the focus of our lake walk was to address questions of how to reimagine the lake in an urban context.

This process starts by repurposing the lake with respect to utility, livelihoods, biodiversity, and a number of other factors. Originally, these lakes were used as an irrigation system for agricultural land. However, with the recent city growth, opinions are shifting toward using the space for things such as: a recreational land, a water source, a fishing lake, or a place to graze cattle. The lack of a central water control system adds to the complexity of determining what exactly to do with the lake area.

We met with Annapoorna along our walk and she told us about the methods she was using to urge conversation between the narrow-thinking organizations that all have some sort of impact on the lake. Her goal, with the help from activists including an individual known as the Zen Rain Man, is to bridge connections between all of these organizations. These organizations include community members, the sewage treatment plant, local fishermen, environmental activists, and more. The purpose of bridging these connections is so that they can all look at the bigger picture and come to one common, agreeable goal for the lake.

Further along our walk, we got a chance to stop at a well that was filled with water from the lake. This well water served as an example of the lake being used to recharge the groundwater in the area to provide another source of water. At the other end of the lake, we got the chance to see a man-made wetland which serves multiple purposes. On the north end of the wetlands, treated water from the sewage treatment plant enters the ecosystem and the plants growing in the wetlands play a part in regulating the quality of this effluent water. The wetlands also serve farmers who are able to come and harvest a plant called alligator weed which can then be used as fodder for cattle. This harvesting is actually a good thing for the health and maintenance of this wetland. By observing this lake we were able to see both the fragility of ecosystems and the issues that go along with governing public spaces which I believe reflects a common theme we have been observing throughout our visit to Bangalore.