Plan to restore WA's 'Pink Lake' to its former glory - Planet Ark Environmental Foundation

Plan to restore WA's 'Pink Lake' to its former glory

By Lucy Jones  August 31st, 2020

Scientists have come up with a re-pinking plan that benefits local ecosystems and traditional owners.

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You've probably seen pictures of Western Australia's highly Instagrammable pink lakes online. But what you see on the internet doesn't always reflect reality. It turns out that for over 10 years the 'Pink Lake', located in the town of Esparance, hasn't actually been pink.

A new plan promises to restore the lake to its former fuchsia glory. Announced last week by the Esperance Shire Council, the plan will pump salt back into the lake from a neighbouring wetland which is suffering from the effects of excess salt.

Tilo Massenbauer, the environmental consultant who developed the plan alongside scientists Selvarajah Marimuthu and John Lizmore, explained that it would deliver benefits for the both the lake and the wetland.

According to Massenbauer, the lake lost its pink colour due to over-harvesting of salt. Between 1986 and 2007 over half of the lakes salt was removed for human use. At the same time, land clearing has lead to an accumulation of salt in the nearby Lake Warden wetland.

"That excess salt problem could be a major benefit to the lack of salt through over-harvesting in Pink Lake," Mr Massenbauer explained.

The lake gets its pink colour from an organism that releases a red pigment when competing for nutrients in environments that have low phosphate levels, high light intensity and high salinity. Massenbauer estimates that it will take approximately three years for the lake to return to pre-1900 salinity levels and get its pink glow back.

The lake's pink colour holds significance for local Aboriginal people. Esperance Nyungar traditional owner Janelle Reynolds told ABC News that the lake is part of a Dreamtime story about a great snake that turned the water pink.

"[Seeing the lake pink again] would breathe life back into that creation story," she said.

Making the Pink Lake pink again will also help bring tourism back to the region when Australia's international borders re-open.

Local residents welcomed the plan, saying the pink lake holds a special place in the town's collective memory.

"It was so intensely pink at times you could see the reflections of the pink on the clouds," Esperance resident Graham Gath, who formerly worked on the lake, recalled.

In conclusion, pink makes everything better.

Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

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Lucy Jones

Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.

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