The Ruzinov Strkovec Lake covers some 56,000 m2 in the suburbs of Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital. The lake is surrounded by blocks of houses, shops, schools and other urban infrastructure. The lake was formed as a result of gravel mining for construction purposes in the 1960s.
Ten years ago, the lake was contaminated by illegal sewage pipes making it a source of annoying smell and putrescent products.
In summer period, when the water level decreased, the polluted banks of the lake became a harbour for rats and mice and the lake surface was covered by algae. As a result the water quality was of the worst possible category.
The lake was considered to be dying and dangerous for any use. The situation was regarded as critical, as the lake is located the vicinity of human settlements and urban infrastructure facilities, such as hotels, schools, kinder gardens, and hospital.
The Association of Industry and Nature Protection (APOP) initiated and organised a project to both revitalise the lake and draw the attention of local people to its flora and fauna. Educational notice boards were installed describing the lake’s life with its inhabitants: birds, water flowers, fish, cane grass, and phytoplankton.
The total cost of the project was US$480 000, of which a half was granted by the local municipality and half from the APOP and other sponsors. The revitalisation project was conducted between 1994 – 1996.
The result is the improved environmental quality of the lake, which has become an area used as a recreational area for people interested in activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, skating and relaxing. The lake has also become a haven for wildlife including scarce and protected birdlife. Annual harvest of water vegetation is used as a biomass (composting). Regular monitoring of lake quality is conducted by the municipal authorities.
Local municipalities may not have the required knowledge base and capacity. For example, in this instance while the municipality would be able to conduct an operation aimed at cleaning the lake, it would be beyond its capacity and expetise to revitalize the lake for benefit of both nature and the local population. The municipality simply did not know what to do with the dirty lake, and did not have any intention of inviting ecologists to design the revitalisation project.
The role of the APOP was critical for attracting the likes of experts such as water engineers, biologists and zoologists to make a proposal (including a feasibility study). Selecting a way to promote such work is important for gaining buy-in and support from relevant stakeholders, and is dependent upon the local circumstances.
Importance of the case for IWRM
The case describes how the partnership between the NGO and municipality resulted in a successful revitalisation of the local lake – the implementation capacity strengthened.
The case shows that deteriorating water quality is connected to threats to ecosystems and human health. Once the water quality is improved, the lake become to be attractive for inhabitants and environmental quality improved.