Sanitation Minister seizes keys to excavator used for illegal sand winning on her tour

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The Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources; MSWR, Cecilia Abena Dapaah on Tuesday, February 21, 2022, visited the Nsawam Water Treatment Plant in the Eastern Region.

The purpose of her visit was to inspect the Densu River which serves as the raw water source for the Nsawam Water Treatment Plant and to further investigate ongoing human activities in the buffer zones.

Ms Dapaah was accompanied by officials of the Ministry and Staff of the GWCL, including the Managing Director of Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Ing. Dr. Clifford Abdallah Braimah.

The Sector Minister was taken on a tour of the plant where she was briefed on the current levels of the raw water source.

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Due to the dry season, the Densu River had gone down below the minimum abstraction level. The minimum abstraction level of the plant is 2.3 meters but as at February 13, 2022, the level was at 1.3 meters, as a result the plant had to be shut down for lack of water. With recent rains upstream, water levels had increased to 2.3 meters, which was enough for operational activities of the plant.

Ms Dapaah commended staff of the Nsawam Treatment Plant for their efforts in keeping the plant functioning and neat.

The Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, further cautioned inhabitants to desist from engaging in clearing and farming activities along the buffer zones.

She highlighted the fact that once such activities are perpetrated, siltation occurs as loose soil is washed into the water source, thus, leaving small amounts of water for treatment.

GWCL is forced to use more chemicals in the treatment process which makes the cost of production very high and eventually impacts on our tariffs.

The Minister indicated that every water source or river should be given a 100-meter buffer on both sides which will allow for trees to be planted, as a means of providing shade for the raw water source. “Without vegetation in the buffer zones, water sources are likely to dry up due to siltation and exposure to the sun, which causes high rate of evaporation, hence the need for these demarcations”, Ms Dapaah stated.

“The Ministry will collaborate with the Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for seedlings to be planted around demarcated areas owned by Ghana Water Company Limited and buffer zones for water bodies. We will not wait for people to encroach before taking action. We need to be proactive”, Ms Dapaah intimated.

WEIJA TREATMENT PLANT

Ms Dapaah also visited the Weija Treatment Plant to assess the impact of illegal sand wining activities and encroachment around the Weija Dam catchment area.

During the tour of the catchment area, an excavator was spotted on site, digging and filling trucks with sand. The Sector Minister ordered an immediate halt of the excavator in operation and confiscation of its key.

Ms Dapaah further instructed trucks which were already loaded with sand to offload them. It was brought to the Minister’s attention that a truckload of sand or stone was sold at an amount between GHS180 and GHS200.

Ms Dapaah indicated that illegal mining activities along the catchment area were affecting operations of the treatment plant and ordered activities to be stopped with immediate effect. She tasked security/military forces stationed at the Headworks to stop all trucks from going uphill. “If these trucks are stopped, such nefarious acts cannot be perpetuated”, she added.

The Sector Minister explained, that water from the Weija Treatment Plant serves as a source of water supply for over 1.5 million people in the western part of Accra, hence the need to protect its integrity. “We are looking for funding to rehabilitate and expand the treatment plant to take care of population growth for the next 20 to 25 years. If sand winning activities continue, there will be no land left for future expansion”, she stated. She, therefore, cautioned illegal sand miners to desist from destroying the land and water resources.

Ms Dapaah indicated that her tour has given the Ministry an insight into happenings on the ground. “We have seen things for ourselves and we are going back to the drawing table to come out with deterrent measures”, she intimated.

The Sector Minister also stated that this is the first in the series of nationwide tours to ascertain the current situation of water supply in the country.

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