A water crisis is imminent in the Kumasi metropolitan area and its environs. This is because the Barekese water which feeds more than one million people in the areas has deteriorated in quality.
The reservoir, on the Ofin River, supports the main water treatment plant for Kumasi and its areas, and supplies about 80 per cent of potable water for the Ashanti regional capital and its surrounding areas.
At a press briefing here in Kumasi, the Chairman of the Board of the Water Resources Commission, Nana Agyewodin Adu Gyamfi Ampem, attributed the deterioration of the water quality to illegal artisanal mining (galamsey) around the water body.
The illegal mining activities, which were previously absent within the Barekese catchment area, had become routine at Nkwantakese in the Afigya Kwabre District, which is upstream the dam.
Nana Agyewodin Adu Gyamfi Ampem, who is also the Paramount Chief of Acherensua in the Brong-Ahafo Region, also identified uncontrolled infrastructural development springing up around the water body, and the indiscriminate harvesting of wood along and around the watercourse and reservoir as well as use of agrochemicals in farming as other causes of the poor quality of the water.
He noted that, recently, the Barekese water treatment plant was expanded to supply about 30 million gallons of water per day, and the catchment area re-afforested to protect and improve its ecological integrity, but the deterioration in quality was beyond description since 2013.
In view of this, he said, “Ghana Water Company Limited has no option than to close down three of its intake facilities all due to the effects of illegal artisanal mining, stressing that the closure of the facilities implied the absence of good drinking water and the search for alternative sources which may be expensive and not safe for use”.
The paramount chief said the state of the water sources of the water intake facilities prior to their closure, was a major public health and economic concern as it discouraged any form of aquatic life, securing water for food production and compromised sustained water availability for future generations.
He called on district assemblies that share the catchment, to collaborate and stop the pollution and illegal mining.
“All should begin to adopt and promote the culture of prevention in the use of water to sustain the quality of our water resources. In essence, prevention of water pollution must be our priority because treating water for use can be expensive, while the restoration of water bodies that have been polluted to their original state is usually complex and also more costly than prevention,” Agyewodin Ampem stated.
From Kingsley E. Hope, Kumasi