The man-made lake at Forest Lake is among the most polluted lakes in the world when it comes to microplastic pollution, according to a new global study published this month.
The research, coordinated by the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), tested microplastic levels in 38 lakes across six continents. Forest Lake was found to have concerningly high levels of microplastic contamination, though lower than the worst polluted lake tested, Lake Lugano on the border of Switzerland and Italy.
“Plastics and microplastics affect lakes and reservoirs on a global scale, including the most remote lakes”, said co-author Professor David Hamilton, Director of Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute.
“In addition to negatively impacting drinking water, plastics pollution has harmful effects on aquatic organisms and ecosystem function. Plastics don’t break down, they mostly break up into smaller and smaller particles, with increasing potential to be absorbed by living organisms, including humans.”Prof Hamilton
The man-made lake was completed in 1994 and is heavily used by local populations. The high microplastic levels are likely driven by stormwater runoff from surrounding urban environments, according to Professor Hamilton.
Some of the most contaminated lakes are vital sources of drinking water for nearby communities, including Lake Maggiore in Italy, Lake Lugano on the border of Switzerland and Italy, Lake Tahoe in the United States, and Lough Neagh in the United Kingdom.
The findings highlight the need to urgently review pollution reduction strategies and waste management to tackle the microplastics crisis, experts believe.
Veronica Nava, a research fellow at the University of Milan-Bicocca’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Plastics that accumulate on the surface of aquatic systems can promote the release of methane and other greenhouse gases.
“These results demonstrate the global scale of plastic pollution. No lake, not even those furthest from anthropogenic activity, can be considered truly pristine,” Ms Nava said.
Brisbane City Council previously implemented the Forest Lake Management Plan, but it’s stated in Council’s website that general maintenance and routine inspections continue at the lake. These include continuing the Ibis management plan, testing and analysis of the lake water quality, treating weeds around the lake, collecting litter, clearing silt trap, and monitoring and managing any changes to the lake environment.