Finding Resolutions to our Water and Electricity Problems? (2)

A Case for Ghana Water

Portable water production in this country has its numerous challenges. Raw water from lakes or rivers has to pass through systems which will kill off micro-organisms and filter out dirt and remnants, resulting in pure, clean and hygienic water that runs through our taps.

Most of the machinery and equipment, used for water treatment and purification have seen better days and are now weak and over stretched to their limits. Pipelines erected during the first republic are hardly replaced and leakages on the lines do not in anyway help the Ghana Water Company Limited to break even.

The financial constraints on this sector are the same that can be found in the power generating sector.

Electricity generation hardly faces the problems of pollution, but in the case with water, in addition to the problems of ageing, machinery and equipment used in water treatment and production have problems of pollution to deal with.

Today in Ghana, unlike the glorious days, most of our water bodies are polluted one way or the other. Waste is disposed of, into water ways and it finds itself in water bodies where water is pumped out into the production units and this is where the problems manifest.

The kidney cleanses the body by removing waste, extra fluid and acid from the body and maintains a healthy balance of water, salts and minerals in the blood. When there are lots of foreign matters, e.g., high level of alcohol in the system, this organ can break down due to over excessive work.

This is what happens to water treatments processes when the raw water is polluted. The reverse osmosis machines, ultrafiltration machines, granular activated carbon (GAC) systems, ion-exchange (IX), ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, nanofiltration systems and electrode ionization systems among others will be stretched to the limits just to purify the raw water and make it wholesome.

In the end, there is system malfunctioning and cost of processing water goes through the roof.

Ghana is currently saddled with the curse of illegal, unapproved mining practices called galamsey. The country is becoming like El-Salvador where the consequences of bad mining practices in general, had 90% of surface water polluted by toxic waste, heavy metals and waste materials. This South American nation placed a ban on all forms of mining, over five years ago, in what was described as, “water winning over gold.”

Ghana is fast becoming like how El-Salvador was before the ban on mining, but even though government is doing all it can to bring a complete halt to all such methods of mining, not only society, but some members of state institution like the Ghana Immigration Service and also some traditional leaders, do not support this.

It is these polluted waters that we expect Ghana Water to purify for us to drink, not realizing the effect this is having on the obsolete machinery and equipment.

Very obvious that the average Ghanaian believes he or she is not responsible for keeping things in order, a trip to the banks of the Weija Dam, by the Minister for Sanitation and Water, brought out the sad case, where those put in authority to stop sand winners from winning sand near the dam, were rather enhancing lawlessness by making sand winners have a field day and doing brisk business at the expense of the state and the health of our people.

Hon Cecilia Dapaah, during a long walk from the gates to the sand winning site, explained that the fine sand-dust create lots of problems for the machinery and equipment used at the water treatment plant.

Like electricity generation, water treatment in Ghana also faces lots of challenges due to the usage of obsolete machinery and equipment. Cost of production is just too high and expected revenue does not recover cost. So, like electricity generation, the producer subsidizes the consumer.

In my opinion, I believe Ghana Water, just like the electricity producers, is just too generous and too economical in their request for hike in tariffs. Both should be requesting for figures of at least a hundred percentage points more than they have requested. The reason is simple. If we want to get things right, then we must provide the money to change everything and bring these two institutions up to perfect production standards for the provision of these two utilities.

Then again, can the ordinary Ghanaian afford such hikes in prices and can industries and businesses survive? The answer is “No.”The solution in my opinion, as I already stated in the first part of this write-up, is for government to go for a loan to effect the positive changes in both sectors and all Ghanaians taxed accordingly.

It is also my opinion that all environmental laws must be respected. As we keep indiscriminately cutting down our trees, the water level will keep dropping and the Akosombo, Kpong and Bui dams would dry up and this will greatly affect electricity production. Also, low water levels will spell doom for water treatment plants.

The situation in Ghana Water is so dire, that it could no longer operate tanker services, so it sold off all its tankers to the private sector. This shows the seriousness of the situation on the ground.

Before government goes for that loan, it must pay off all water and electricity bills that are outstanding in the books of state institutions.

Hon. Daniel Dugan

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.


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