Steps are being taken to improve Bruma Lake and the watercourse feeding it. Flow of water will be eased, and the banks and flood plain will be planted, creating a park.

The conversion of some sections of Bruma Lake into a recreational park is likely to revive the area economically. The makeover, which is being undertaken by the Johannesburg Development Agency, at a cost of R65-million, is expected to be completed by February 2015.

Bruma Lake is on the eastern edge of Johannesburg, near the border with neighbouring Ekurhuleni. Plans for the water course include using the dry months for the engineering works, followed by landscaping of the modified site into a park.

Celestine Mouton, the JDA’s development manager, said it was the first time the agency was participating in such a venture. Mouton is spearheading the project. “The lake area will be reduced to natural streams and filled with suitable material, and the original wetland will be reinstated along with a river bed, banks and flood plain,” she explained.

In the previous years, the lake has suffered from pollution and siltation, which resulted in unbearable stench and affected local businesses, forcing some to move away. The build-up of sludge in the lake was due to washing powders, detergents, sewage, litter and other debris flowing into the lake from the Jukskei River. It raised the ire of residents and businesses, who were worried about the health implications.

Planned work on the area will involve diverting the flow of water in the watercourse, and altering the bed, banks and characteristics of the watercourse. So far, the City has managed to drain the lake and is busy demolishing the structures in its basin.

Mouton said the agency would plant up the banks and flood plain with suitable foliage, creating a park that could be used for recreation for most of the year.
The project will also improve the flow of water, increasing natural aeration and natural filtration of water by the plants along the vegetated banks. Access for cleaning of debris will be improved, and ecological linkages between upstream and downstream areas will be restored.

“We hope that the recreational park will contribute to its surrounding communities,” she said.

Bruma Lake is close to Eastgate Mall, one of the city’s largest shopping centres. More than two million people visit the mall a month.