Weija treatment under siege by encroachers
Encroachment on the buffers of the Weija Dam by estate developers and other human activities is putting residents of Accra at risk of water insecurity.
The estate developers have built hundreds of structures close to the course of the dam, causing siltation in the reservoir and making it difficult for the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL) to treat the water.
Additionally, farming activities by residents of communities along the dam such as Obom, Joma, Denkyira, Tuba and Weija have also affected the quality of the water as fertiliser and other chemicals are washed into the water.
This came to light when the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, led a team comprising the enforcement and monitoring unit of the authority, National Security, the Ghana Armed Forces and the GWCL to the site of the Weija treatment facility yesterday.
The visit followed a desperate call by officials of the GWCL for immediate intervention to save the dam, which supplies water to half of Accra's 4.5 million population, from total capture.
When the team got to the site, the Daily Graphic observed that hundreds of unauthorised buildings had sprung up within the 300-metre buffer to the dam.
While some of the houses were being occupied by people, others were at various stages of completion.
Quarry activities were ongoing around the buffer while blocks and chippings used for construction activities straddled the dam.
Seaweeds had also taken over portions of the water body, a development officials of the GWCL said was hampering water production.
The EPA Executive Director who stood in awe of the extent of encroachment activities in the area declared that immediate steps would be taken to halt the construction activities.
He further stressed that legal processes would be activated to demolish all illegal structures within the buffer of the dam as a matter of urgency.
“The water reservoir is an important and strategic national asset and needs to be protected from illegal human activities that are compromising its integrity.
As quickly as possible, we will take drastic measures to halt these illegal activities here,” he said.
Dr Kokofu stressed that the EPA would work with related ministries and stakeholders to stop persons who were polluting the reservoir through irresponsible farming activities.
“Those who are farming along the dam must stop; those who are building illegal structures must stop, because we will ensure that every building that interferes with the buffer is demolished,” he stressed.
He said that the encroachment activities would be treated as a priority because the impact was severe and diverse.
“There are both environmental and health effects.
If waste water, particularly coming from human excreta, is washed into the reservoir, you know the danger it portends to human lives.
This is an eyesore and should not happen,” he said.
Impact on GWCL
For his part, the station manager of the Weija Treatment Plant, John Koppoe, said the encroachment activities had consequences for GWCL's operations because the quality of raw water that ran through the various processes to get potable water for consumers kept on deteriorating.
He added that the siltation of the reservoir, invasion by seaweeds and chemical pollution from farming activities had also made the cost of treating water high.
He added that apart from siltation of the dam, those activities reduced the storage capacity of the reservoir.
“It also has consequences on the dam structure itself and if this dam collapses, it is going to be catastrophic for residents of Accra,” he said.
He added that because the water in the reservoir was getting more polluted, it required more chemicals and processes to get it to potable status.
Aside from that, he said the situation had also caused more wear and tear to GWCL’s equipment.
“We have to make maintenance and replace equipment very often and this increases production cost,” he said.