Nawuni River faces threat of pollution from activities of sand winners

BY: Mohammed Fugu
A Tipper truck conveying sand from the riverside
A Tipper truck conveying sand from the riverside

The Nawuni River (White Volta) where the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) draws water for distribution to consumers in Tamale and its environs in the Northern Region is facing threats of pollution from the activities of sand winners around its banks.

According to officials of the GWCL, the turbidity level of the river currently stood at 192 NTU, which they said was beyond the required standard of between zero and five NTU, a situation which required the use of more chemicals to treat the water.

As a result of the high turbidity levels, about 22 per cent of harvested water go waste at Nawuni in the Kumbungu District during production instead of the required five per cent loss.

The company currently produces between 28,000 and 32,000 cubic metres of water monthly as against 45,000 cubic metres required by customers.

A water treatment plant at Dalun, also in the Kumbungu District, serves people in the Tamale metropolis, the Savelugu municipality, Nanton, Kumbungu and Tolon districts.

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These came to light when the Northern Regional Chief Manager of GWCL, Mr Stevens Ndebugri, and some officials of the company led the Deputy Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Mr Michael Yaw Gyato, on a tour of the raw water intake point and the water treatment plant at Nawuni and Dalun respectively to apprise him of their operations and challenges.

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Mr Ndebugri said the pollution of the river, coupled with challenges such as erratic power supply and illegal connection, were making it difficult for the GWCL to supply the required quantity of water to residents of the area.

“We are supposed to produce 45,000 cubic metres in a month but due to some challenges, such as erratic power supply and sand wining activities, we currently produce between 28,000 and 32,000 cubic metres of water monthly which is not enough.

Many areas in Tamale are not getting water regularly due to this situation but we are working hard to ensure that those challenges are resolved,” he stated.

Buffer zone

Mr Ndebugri reiterated the need for the creation of a buffer zone of a distance of about two to three kilometres on each side of the river banks to protect the water from the activities of the encroachers.

That, he said, would go a long way to diminish the rate of siltation and the turbidity levels of the river.

“I know very well that they would continue to win the sand because Tamale needs development but it should be done in the right manner.

The government and relevant stakeholders can help us create a buffer zone of two kilometres on both sides of the river to help prevent the pollution,” he added.

The manager also appealed to chiefs and land owners in the community to stop selling lands along the river banks to developers.


For his part, Mr Gyato said the ministry would collaborate with relevant stakeholders to find swift measures to protect the river.

“We are not happy with activities of the sand winners. I will inform my minister about the challenges you are encountering to see how we can map out strategies to curb the situation.


In February 2018, the Management of GWCL threatened to shut down its treatment plant at Dalun if the sand winning activities continued.

Later, some members of a security taskforce carried out an operation in the area leading to the burning of some 14 Tipper trucks and an excavator after they allegedly failed to heed to warnings to stop their activities.

The increasing demand for sand by developers has led to the high rate of sand winning along the river.

The uncontrolled practice has, however, led to the destruction of farmlands and the ecosystem along the river banks as well as increased the turbidity level of the river due to silts which have engulfed it.



Date: 23/04/2019 | Venue: Labadi Beach Hotel