Water treatment plant at Bunso shut down over activities of illegal miners

BY: Naa Lamiley Bentil
The polluted Birim River
The polluted Birim River

The Bunso Water Treatment Plant in the Eastern Region has been shut down due to galamsey activities in the area.

The plant, which produces about 60,000 gallons of potable water per day, was shut down on September 4, 2018.

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The treatment plant derives its water from upstream Birim River.

When in operation, the plant serves Etukrom, Bunso, including the University for Environment, the Cocoa Village, Linda Dor area and Nsutam.

This is the second time this year that the plant has been closed down. It was earlier shut down in January alongside the Osino Treatment Plant for the same reasons. The latter has remained shut since February this year because of the consistent pollution of downstream Birim River.


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Rationale

The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) was compelled to shut down the plant due to high pollution, making treatment very expensive.

Currently, the water turbidity, according to the Public Relations Officer of the Eastern Regional GWCL, Mr Kwadwo Daase, was high and, therefore, beyond treatment.

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"We don't have normal turbidity level, it varies. This morning we are recording turbidity of 11, 000 Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU) , which means that the raw water is highly polluted as compared to yesterday's turbidity of 6750 ntu." The normal turbidity required is 500 ntu.

Alternative water

Presently, residents of Bunso are relying on private boreholes, rivers and streams for supplies.

Attempts by the GWCL to sink mechanised boreholes has not been successful because the yields, according to Mr Daase, were not good.

He further explained that apart from spending much money in treating the polluted water, the company risked damaging its equipment in the process.

According to Mr Daase, the Bunso plant was not built to measure the water turbidity, which should ideally be 500 ntu, but that laboratory tests carried out showed it was highly polluted.

He, however, commended efforts by the anti-galamsey task force, ‘Operation Vanguard’ and attributed the current pollution of the Birim River to activities of recalcitrant illegal miners who found their way back into the forest after the task force had left.

Situation

The Eastern Region has four treatment plants, including the one at Bunso.

There is also one at Kyebi that produces 44,000 gallons of water daily.

It was built and inaugurated in March 2014 but had to be shut down for about two months last year due to the negative effects of galamsey activities.

The Anyinam Treatment Plant, which produces 30,000 gallons of water daily, has also been shut down for three years now for the same reason.