- After the reformation of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency under the Rural Sector Reform Policy in 2017, the Institution has been developing human resource capital, building and leveraging technological capacity towards meeting emerging water quality and pollution posed by both domestic and illegal mining activities. These activities are injurious to underground water (a crucial source of water for the CWSA in meeting its mandate). Hence, the reform is helping the CWSA to transform operations and meet globally acceptable standards of water and sanitation delivery in Ghana.
Extent of the galamsey on water-related pollution and the work of the Agency.
Galamsey with water-related pollutions is a key area of intense concern for the CWSA. It inhibits the agency’s ability to execute its core mandate. Dr. Siabi emphasized that “Once people are mining illegally or inappropriately, they use all kinds of shortcut methods to get what they want quickly and move away. There are some chemicals that will provide the solution they are looking for. Those chemicals are washed into the surface water systems and mind you, all ground water resources obtain their sources from surface water and vice versa and once these chemicals are washed in there, they find their way into the aquifers which are sources of ground water reserves.”
About 95% of our water sources, he explained, are from ground water and so we have a lot of challenges on our hands.
He noted for example that, in gold mining, elements such as arsenic are released as rocks are being crushed to access the gold. In the process, while the gold is taken away, the arsenic finds its way into the water sources and then the levels of ground water pollution keep rising. The danger, Dr. Siabi revealed is that, “because these activities are not controlled, other chemicals which are part of the earth’s structure such as iron, manganese etc. also emerge and find their way into these ground water reserves.” He further explained that, “All of these have created a challenge for ground water supply, and knowing that Rural Water Supply depends on ground water reserves, the concern is legitimate.” “About 95% of our water supply, he explained, are from ground water and so we have a lot of challenges on our hands.
It is important to stress that surface water also has huge problems with quality. The onerous responsibility is for CWSA and other water supply agencies to collaborate in finding a way out to ensure appropriate supply of safe water. Undoubtedly, Dr. Worlanyo Siabi realizes the impact this will have directly on the health of the people, hence the call for a quick and sustainable remedy to the situation. For example, it’s believed that high levels of manganese affect infertility in women among others.
Throwing more light on the health implication of polluted water, Dr. Siabi reveals, “There is a condition we call hemochromatosis (overload of iron in the body) which leads to infertility in Men. In children and women, high manganese levels can cause lowering of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and stillbirth respectively. In Ghana, the highest we have seen so far is in the Eastern Region with an iron level of more than 45 milligram per liter, compared to the acceptable level of 0.3 milligram per liter. So, if you are exposed to these levels overtime, then you can understand what challenges we are up against. Manganese has also been very high in Ghana, about 27 milligram per liter.”
The danger in these frightening statistics is that Ghanaians, especially children, are being exposed to these health hazards. Dr. Siabi maintains that the IQ of Ghanaian children are likely to be affected “but we are not talking about it because no definite studies have shown that these are the contributions of these chemicals in water, but they are there and we are just sitting on a time bomb and creating these public health challenges.”
The CWSA reform is in response to this and many other health-related issues in water supply. The Agency has thus firmly decided on making the necessary changes to fix the ills in meeting its statutory mandate. Continue Here