A galamsey site
The activities of illegal miners, who are popularly called ‘Galamseyers,’ have been identified as the major source of water pollution in mining communities in the country, especially in the Western Region.
Mawuli Lumor, a Basin Officer of the Water Resources Commission (WRC), who disclosed this, said that water is an essential component of human development, as well as Ghana’s developmental efforts.
To this end, he noted that it was necessary to improve water bodies to reduce water borne diseases.
Mr. Lumor was speaking at a training workshop for journalists in the Western Region on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and Water Laws and Regulations, as well as Environmental Reporting.
The workshop was aimed at encouraging journalists to be interested in environmental reporting and educating the public on the adverse effects of water pollution, among others.
He explained that the Water Resources Commission (WRC) had established a River Basin Board.
He noted that the Board’s Secretariat, the decentralized management body, facilitates the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
The approach, according to him, was to promote the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources.
‘This is to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems,’ he stressed.
Bernadette Araba Adjei, Legal Advisor to the WRC, revealed that a person who pollutes a water resource beyond the level that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may prescribe commits an offence under the Water Resources Commission Act, 1996.
‘A person who, except in accordance with the provisions of the Act or with the approval of the EPA, interferes with or alters the flow of water resource also commits an offence,’ she added.
She stated that ‘such a person is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.’
She explained that the mandate of the Water Resources Commission was specifically to regulate and manage the utilization of water resources and co-ordinate relevant government policies in relation to them.
She indicated that the control of all water resources was vested in the President of Ghana on behalf of the people of the Republic.
‘Where it appears to the Commission that the use of water resources for a purpose at a place poses a serious threat to the environment or to public health, the Commission may serve on the user of the water resources, an enforcement notice.’
The notice would require the user to take the necessary steps to prevent or stop the activities,’ Lawyer Araba Adjei noted.
She noted that another regulation that had been developed and adopted by Parliament was the Drilling Licence and Groundwater Development Regulations Legislative Instrument (L.I.) 1827 (2006).
She pointed out that the purpose of LI 1827 was to provide licences to companies that prospect and drill water wells.
‘It is also to help gather information on the groundwater resources availability in Ghana and its exploitation for effective planning and management of groundwater development activities,’ she indicated.
Araba Adjie said the Commission had initiated the process of developing a third regulation and setting up of a National Dam Safety Unit.
She indicated that the unit would help regulate and coordinate all relevant activities related to dam design, construction, operations and maintenance and decommissioning.
‘The ultimate goal is to ensure uniform and adequate level of safety for all dams throughout Ghana,’ she added.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi
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