The imminent threat of Ghana’s water resources running dry in a few years gets scarier by the day.
Water treatment plants are being shut down one after the other almost every time, due to pollution, largely by activities of illegal gold miners.
Head of Communications at the Ghana Water Company, Steve Mantey, on the Citi FM in Accra yesterday, gave an overview of water bodies in the some regions that have been polluted by illegal mining activities.
In the Western Region, the main water bodies that have been polluted include the Rivers Pra, Daboase, and Ankobra.
The main water body in the Eastern Region that has been polluted is Birim. Plants in Kyebi, which were meant for water treatment, had to be shut down due to pollution of the Birim river which is beyond treatment.
Giving a vivid description of the state of the Birim River, Mr. Mantey said: “We have an old treatment plant in Kyebi which is not automated. Unfortunately, the cause of the Birim is diverted and totally destroyed such that we cannot even see the waterway so you can imagine the state of the Birim now.”
This challenge has compelled the Ghana Water Company to construct a borehole which will serve small communities. But, according to Mr. Mantey, the greater percentage of the population still does not have access to water.
The problem extends to the Koforidua and new Juaben communities, where water bodies around that community have been polluted as a result of fishing activities.
“Formerly we were using very minimal levels of chemicals in treating water from the Volta River but the chemical usage is decreasing gradually which means that pollution is gradually getting higher.”
In the Greater Accra Region, the Densu River which extracts water specifically for Western Accra and situated around the Weija dam is polluted as a result of farming activities and industrial waste.
The Ghana Water Company has resorted to using chemicals to address this problem.
“Immediately it [waste] is dumped, the pollution is intense so we have had to use a lot of chemicals in our Weija treatment plant to treat water,” Mr. Mantey explained.
Upper West Region
In the Upper West Region, the Black Volta is also polluted, forcing the Ghana Water Company to get a new water treatment plant to produce safe drinking water.
“In the Upper West Region, we have a new treatment plant that will supply water to the Wa Municipality. The Black Volta is also currently disturbed as a result of galamsey operation. We have a new treatment plant and we are about test running the treatment plant,” Mr. Mantey said.
The Ashanti Region is battling with the same problem. According to Mr. Mantey, the Enu River in the Ashanti Region which serves residents at Konogo is polluted due to galamsey activities. He said the Ghana Water Company in a bid to address this problem “did some work in the area and it is yielding results.”
Mr. Mantey however commended the chiefs in Bari Kese, another community in the Ashanti Region, who in his view are “protecting the water bodies in the area.”
While galamsey activities are polluting water bodies in other regions, the basic activity polluting water bodies in the Northern Region is sand winning. According to Mr. Mantey, in the Nawuni River, situated at the Northern Region, “people are winning sand which is changing the colour of the river.”
Brong Ahafo Region
The situation is even worse in the Brong Ahafo Region, where residents have, according to Mr. Mantey, blocked the “course of the river at certain intervals such that the water is unable to flow into some areas.”
This situation is particularly rife in Sunyani. “Recently we all heard of the lack of water in Sunyani. It was not as a result of equipment but it was as a result of farming activities. They had blocked the river course to irrigate their farms.”
Mr. Mantey revealed that in the Central Region, some water bodies specifically at Cape Coast have been polluted as a result of galamsey activities.