NGOs call for stringent measures to control water pollution
Some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are calling on government to step-up its efforts at controlling water pollution by passing into law the Polluter Pay Principle to give legal backing to the Water Quality Guideline Values being used currently in the country.
This is because issues of water quality and water availability are very crucial for the attainment Sustainable Development Goal six, adding that when passed into law; the Polluter Pay Principle would “deter people from polluting water bodies and reduce the cost of treating polluted water for urban water supply.”
“To this end, we call on the Government as well as Parliament, as a matter of urgency, to pass into law the Polluter Pay Principle and give legal backing to all the Water Quality Guideline Values being used in the country.”
“Government by doing this would give meaning to the legislation on polluter pay principle; deter people from polluting water bodies and reduce the cost of treating polluted water for urban water supply.”
These were contained in a Statement issued by the NGOs namely, WACAM, GLOMEF, CEIA and GEMA to mark this year’s World Water Day, which fell on Thursday March 22.
The Statement noted that even though Ghana is endowed with abundant water resources, the country could face acute water shortage in the future due mainly to due to some human activities such as mining around water bodies, indiscriminate discharge or dumping of refuse into water bodies.
“For example, a study conducted by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in 2008 revealed that 22 out of 28 water bodies they sampled in selected mining communities are polluted.”
“A similar study by CEIA and WACAM in 2008 also revealed that 250 out of 400 water bodies in the South-Western Rivers System, which formed the basis of the study, have elevated levels of heavy metals such as arsenic; cadmium; mercury; copper; lead; manganese, among other elements due to uncontrolled mining operations.”
These, according to the Statement, pose significant health hazard to residents, who use water for their daily activities.
“A study commissioned by Newmont Gold Ghana Limited has established that water bodies in its Ahafo Mines have been so polluted such that approximately 10% of residents in the Ahafo mines depend on bottled water for their daily water need.”
“This study was undertaken by Dr. Krieger Gary, Dr. Janet Kester and Mr. Doug Rogness of NewFields Company LLC from New York, USA, and supported by Dr. Asante K. Poku of Kintampo health Research Centre of Ghana Health Service.”
“We further hold the view that, for government, to reap the full benefits of her huge investment in the water sector, there is the need to address policy contradictions in the sector that have led to the poor water resource management.”
“That is, government decision to open up forest reserves for mining operations meant the sanctioning of the destruction of watersheds and by extension the killing of rivers and water bodies.”
“For example, the Government has granted mining lease to Newmont Gold Ghana Limited Akyem Mine to undertake surface mining in the Ajenua-Bepo Forest Reserve, which is the watershed for rivers such as Yaayaa; Adenkyensu; Alotosu; Afosu; Aprapon and Owonta.
The Statement therefore called on the government to withdraw Environmental Permits it has granted to mining companies to mine in forest reserves of Ghana to demonstrate its commitment to the protection of our water resources.
It reiterated the need for all stakeholders, particularly those government officials who have the habit of defending multinational companies like Newmont Ghana Gold Limited anytime they discharged toxic chemicals into our water bodies to stop such practice.