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Public support needed to salvage precarious water source situation

BY: Charles Anson-Lawson
Challenges with potable water supply needs the collaboration of all
Challenges with potable water supply needs the collaboration of all

Water is the essence of life. The importance of water as basic natural requirement for sustainable life cannot be overemphasised. There is no way life can be sustained without water.

It is an indispensable part of our very livelihood and survival. Indeed, it is one of God’s own physiological needs of man in addition to air, food and sleep. It is even postulated with some amount of documentation that the quality of our blood and effective performance of our kidneys depend largely on the quality of the water we drink.

Life, therefore, in the absence of water is not possible. It must, however, be clearly noted that water at the same time could be dangerous to human life if it is not carefully handled or protected

Complex

The water industry today is a complex, highly skilled business with the consumer always at the forefront/centre of everything it does. One of the main commitments of GWCL is to endeavour to meet growing demand from customers and to ensure at all times that the public gets clean, healthy potable water for all purposes i.e. domestic, industrial and commercial.

It is a capital intensive industry and its handlers need a huge intensity of purpose, dedication, commitment and acumen to ensure public satisfaction.


What is happening to our rivers and other water bodies is a momentous time in history that require a strong deliberate and conscious action to rein in the perpetrators who have chosen the destruction of the environment and all our existing water bodies as a life-time career once and for all.

These are people with diminished sense of patriotism and lack of the essential dignity of rational human beings. A career they relentlessly pursue with sly satisfaction.

Posterity will not exonerate those who looked on euphemistically as the destruction, wanton and reprehensible pollution went on unabated with impunity. It indeed has generational consequences. The situation demands plain speaking without fear or favour for the sake of our lives’ sustenance.

Like Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe’s “Man Friday”, who never had the chance to tell his story, the GWCL has a sad story to tell. What is happening to the country’s water bodies and rivers, which largely constitute the main sources of extraction for treatment and distribution is a sad story that needs to be told and be listened to by all stakeholders in the water supply and consumption operations.

Galamsey

Galamsey mining has become a vocation that has gradually been entrenched as an institution with deep cultural roots in the country, while government after governments seem hopelessly incapable of halting its disastrous consequences to the nation’s water supply systems.

The GWCL has no power, as far as I know legally, physically, traditionally or even morally to control the harm that is being unleashed on the various water sources in the country.

The motivators behind the perpetrators are powerful and almost unstoppable .The disastrous effects are much known in high places. Everybody knows it, but everyone quibbles about it in half-hearted condemnation.

It is by sheer exercise of infinite ingenuity that the engineers of the GWCL have managed, over the years, to serve the public without making a meal of what they have been going through.

So, now we must ask the question; what are the established institutions like Water Resources Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, the Forestry Commission and the National Commission on Civic Education been doing about the situation?

They are the institutions legally established and mandated to ensure that sanity prevails in these areas of environmental degradation issues.

May be, I say may be, they are under resourced for effective performance. If that is the case, it is their responsibility to put their problems at the appropriate quarters for redress for the benefit of the nation.

Agenda

The agenda 21 of the RIO Conference recommended, as a matter of greatest urgency, an integrated approach to save our water bodies across the world. Ghana cannot be an exception. Solution to the existing problem is the responsibility of every citizen in the country.

Production of potable water is a very expensive business. Impounding reservoirs, service reservoirs, water extraction and treatment, pumping stations and distribution networks that stretch over thousands of kilometers and the remuneration of officers who do these jobs, all cost billions of cedis and the company is expected to find a way of meeting its obligations with the public at all cost without complain.

The problem of water source pollution is not caused by galamsey only. It also involves sand winners and certain individuals who often block the river course or divert it for their own selfish purposes.

Chiefs, assemblymen, opinion leaders, Members of Parliament, the press and the entire citizenry must wake up for an integrated approach to save the river bodies, forests and arable lands.

The situation requires firm and collaborative actions to save the water bodies. Pollution of our existing water courses presently remain a great threat to human health and the water supply industry.

A water course that is polluted pose serious threat to the natural environment and aquatic creatures that end up on our dining tables and meals with probable cyanide and mercury contamination.

The implications are that GWCL may in the nearest future have to use more chemicals at extra cost to treat the available water. Less and less water will be available to the public because the water left for treatment is reduced due to excessive pollution. The present levels of the PH and turbidity are nothing to write home about.

Cooperate with GWCL in this direction for better and safer service.

The writer is a Retired Chief Manager, GWCL.