Very soon ecological parameters of the Chilika lagoon would be rated on a scale of 0 to 1. The 1,100-sq-km brackish water lake is set to become the first one in Asia which will develop a report card system to assess health of the ecosystem through a full-fledged monitoring mechanism.
Under the project, for which Chilika Development Authority (CDA) has received support from the UNEP, the entire lake and its outer channel would be divided into different ecological zones. In the zones, monitoring data of water quality, sediment, macrophytes and biota would be generated for a scoring system to be developed. The report card would be compared with the standard which will provide an overall health of the grade for each zone.
The standardised score would be from 0 to 1 for each indicator and then averaged for each performance category. The closer the result to a score of 1, the healthier is the ecosystem. The grade would be published for the benefit of all stakeholders, including local communities.
“The ecosystem health card would indicate the health of the ecosystem of each zone and the lake as a whole. This would also guide the management actions,’’ CDA Chief Executive Ajit Patnaik said.
Institute of Ocean Management (IOM) of Anna University, Chennai, and National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) have been designated as partners in the project which will be reviewed by an expert group periodically.
CDA had applied for a small-scale funding (SSF) to UNEP to develop the methodology to define the basic indicators of the lake ecosystem, based on monitoring outputs, and ascribe values to ascertain the health of the lake, estuary and the offshore zone. The UNEP has sanctioned $ 1,18,000 for the project.
The project would define basic indicators and values to ascertain the health of the lake as well as rivers which discharge into it. Role of river-catchments and freshwater nutrient flushing into Chilika, assessment of bio-geochemicals, estimation of overall water quality and coastal water quality in the adjacent Bay of Bengal and influence of tidal activities will be monitored. It will also help build a management plan.
The project is scheduled to be launched on Monday. The report card would also be presented before an international group of lake managers from Laguna de Bay in Manila.