Mining | National

Galamsey worsened in 2010 and water pollution increased

The quality of Ghana's water bodies have deteriorated remarkably after 2010 following the game-changing introduction of heavy machinery in mining on river beds, the Water Resources Commission has observed.

The game-changing use of the machines has turned many water bodies into milky, silted streams of water that is difficult to purify, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Bernard Ampomah told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday.

The ritual of water shortage in Ghana has begun in the Eastern, Western and Greater Accra regions partly because of dry weather conditions.

But increasingly, pollution of water bodies has also been fingered as contributing significantly to the cycle of water shortage.

Ghanaians are also yet to wake up to the wider global reality that lack of access to safe drinking water could lead to the world’s next war.

Localizing the discussion of water shortage, Bernard Ampomah said the deterioration of water bodies has been a concern since 2005. But the pollution of water bodies through the activities of illegal mining reached alarming since 2010.

Foreign nationals mainly Chinese have been accused of importing and using heavy machinery to mine in rivers destroying the precious resource. They are also destroying forests in search for gold.

Illegal miners are using mercury to pollute water bodies. Some of them, he said, also divert the courses of rivers in the process of mining "and do not care to restore the route of the rivers" after their mining activities.

The Ghana Water Company has said it is investing heavily into the purification of water while residents have also complained about the taste of water produced from some of the traditional water sources.

Fighting against the activities of illegal miners who cause the pollution has produced mixed results. An inter-ministerial taskforce set up to clamp down on illegal mining has petered out, Mr. Ampomah said.

The penalty for water pollution is a fine and/or a maximum prison sentence of two years which campaigners believe is not punitive enough.