The Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, has stated that the government has not relented in its fight against illegal mining popularly known as “galamsey" that increases the turbidity and colourisation of water bodies in the country.
She observed that illegal mining affected about 22 per cent of the country's surface water resources with contaminants and pollutants such as mercury, among others, which should not be countenanced.
She said the war on galamsey was a national one and it should be won to ensure that water bodies were protected to serve as a source of good drinking water in the country.
Mrs Dapaah stated this on the floor of Parliament last Tuesday in response to a question by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma North, Sheila Bartels.
Ms Bartels wanted to find out from the sanitation and water resources minister the extent to which illegal mining was contributing to the deterioration of water bodies in the country.
Responding to the question, Mrs Dapaah said turbidity was a measure of the degree to which the water loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particles.
She said the acceptable turbidity value for drinking water was five Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU), while values of 80-150 NTU were acceptable for other water uses as appropriate.
" Mr Speaker, at the end of February 2022, the average turbidity of the Southwestern River System, which is the main illegal mining area in the country, was 1,313; the Volta River System was 40; and the Coastal River System was 105", she said.
Effects of galamsey
Mrs Dapaah said in terms of coverage, the Volta River System drains 70 per cent of the country while the Southwestern takes 22 per cent and the Coastal system took eight per cent.
" Therefore, illegal mining is pronounced and affects about 22 per cent of our surface water resources with contaminants and pollutants such as Mercury etc", she said.
Sanitation and Pollution levy
Mrs Dapaah, in her response to another question asked by the MP for Manhyia North, Akwasi Konadu, as to how much her ministry had received from the Sanitation and Pollution Levy and how those funds were being utilised to tackle sanitation issues in the country, said her ministry was yet to be notified on the total funds accrued from the levy so far
She said the Ministry of Finance was responsible for the receipt of the Sanitation and Pollution Levy (SPL) and her ministry had not been notified of the total amount accrued and the modalities for disbursement.
Mrs Dapaah, however, noted that her ministry had proposed plans to utilise the SPL funds across the country.
She said the funds would be used for solid waste management infrastructure and services, liquid waste management and services and public sensitisation, law enforcement, monitoring and evaluation.