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Encroachment threatens water supply in Kumasi as Barekese water treatment plant faces crisis

According to the company, the Barekese catchment area has experienced an 80 per cent reduction in forest cover, leading to a 53 per cent increase in siltation, which has significantly reduced the reservoir storage capacity from 44.6 Mm3 to 21.4 Mm3 due to extensive farming activities.

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The Ghana Water Company Limited has issued a warning about a potential water crisis in the Greater Kumasi area, citing encroachment activities around the Barekese Water Treatment Plant as a major concern.

According to the company, the Barekese catchment area has experienced an 80 per cent reduction in forest cover, leading to a 53 per cent increase in siltation, which has significantly reduced the reservoir storage capacity from 44.6 Mm3 to 21.4 Mm3 due to extensive farming activities.

To address the critical situation, the company convened a gathering of various stakeholders, including chiefs, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), the Forestry Commission, and students, to find a sustainable solution to the challenge during an event to observe the World Water Day at Barekese.

Dr Hanson Mensah Akutteh, Chief Manager of the Ashanti Production, highlighted the detrimental impact of farmers converting the company’s lands into farmlands, which is impeding the production and treatment of water for the Greater Kumasi Area. 

He emphasized that the extensive farmlands have transformed the area into bare lands, leading to significant siltation after every downpour.

Dr. Akutteh expressed concerns that the siltation has covered a large part of the dam, leaving only a small section, which may significantly affect the effective distribution of water to the Greater Kumasi area in the coming days.

“Almost all the trees are gone and the cover has turned into a bare land where farming activities are now ongoing, maize and cocoa farming activities are all over the enclave, so it has exposed the bare land, and you can see the silt directly as you watch the land,” he said.

He also raised alarm about the destruction of trees planted to reclaim the land by unscrupulous individuals, warning that if immediate actions are not taken, the region may soon face a serious water crisis.

Dr Akutteh also mentioned the challenges posed by illegal mining activities, which have led to a more than 1000 per cent increase in the turbidity of the Odasu River, significantly raising the cost of water treatment in the area. 

He noted that the treatment plant is currently unable to adequately serve the over 400,000 Obuasi population due to the impact of illegal mining.

Some traditional leaders in the Barekese area expressed concerns following the GWCL’s warning of a potential water crisis in parts of the region. 

Nana Kusi Oboadum, a Sub-Chief at Barekese, attributed the situation to the District Assembly and the Forestry Commission, accusing them of granting permission for tree-cutting and farming activities on the company’s lands.

The event was held under the theme “Leveraging Water for Peace: Promoting Utilization of Water for Peace,” stressing the importance of water management for peaceful coexistence.

The company and stakeholders stressed the urgent need for collective efforts to address encroachment and illegal mining activities to safeguard the water supply in the region.

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