Another setback for Bruma Lake project

IT IS another knock for the much-maligned Bruma Lake, with the next phase in its rehabilitation dropped due to insufficient funding.

The year started optimistically for the lake, which over the years has grown increasingly polluted by sewage and litter flowing from Joburg’s city centre. An artificial wetland was built to help the natural filtration of the water flowing into the lake, while litter baskets were installed further upstream.

LITTER TRAP: The rehabilitation of Bruma Lake has seen several stop-gap measures implemented in recent years. Earlier this year, the council installed three SolarBees' floating, solar-powered machines to improve circulation of the water and rid it of the stench of years of collected garbage.Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng. Credit: Motshwari Mofokeng

But according to the minutes of a mayoral committee meeting in August, “the Bruma Lake project had to be cancelled due to insufficient budget”.

The council says the project has not been cancelled but was put on hold until funds could be obtained.

So far it has secured only R7.5 million for the next financial year, and another R9m for the year after.

Even combined, this is not enough to meet the estimated project cost of R36m.

This second phase of the project would see Bruma evolve from a lake to a river: extending the surrounding banks by filling in the lake and narrowing out the body of water. The idea is to improve the flow and natural aeration of the water, which, until earlier this year, had been causing a stink for a long time.

“Bruma Lake has a very small base flow,” explained wetlands expert Paul Fairall, who has long been fighting to see the lake’s problems resolved.

“There’s not enough current to manage a lake of that size, so it becomes a litter trap. A river-like quality would be better for it.”

In January, the council installed three “SolarBees” – floating, solar-powered machines – to improve circulation of the water and rid it of the stench.

“It was terrible before,” said Bruma shopping centre manager Dimitri Kouloumbis.

“But the SolarBees really are helping, though the summer rains have been bringing a lot of rubbish overflowing into the lake.”

He said businesses welcomed the proposed changes to the area.

“We want to get Bruma Lake back to the reputation it used to have, as the place to be.”

But Fairall said none of the short-term fixes would make the problems go away.

“It’s patching things up with plasters instead of implementing a thorough maintenance plan. Drastic ills need drastic measures.”

The current delay is just the latest roadblock in the rehabilitation of Bruma Lake, which has seen numerous short-term, stop-gap measures over the years, but no lasting solution.

These included: