Regional News of Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Source: GNA

Government takes measures to conserve water bodies-Minister

The Water Resources Commission has developed a Riparian Buffer Zone policy to develop and maintain buffers to conserve water bodies, Mr. Enoch Teye Mensah, Minster of Water Resources, Works and Housing announced in Accra on Tuesday.

Buffers are areas or band of natural or planted vegetation located between land and water bodies.

A memorandum on the issue has been finalised for submission to Cabinet for approval.

Addressing the media at the Meet-The-Press series, Mr. Mensah explained that such buffer zones would provide valuable socio-economic services like creation of jobs in the planting and maintenance of economic trees, generation of income from valuable timber and non-timber forest products such as forage and fruits, conservation of natural scenic areas of recreational value, cropping and eco-tourism as well as provision of potable water supply for local communities.

He said such measures were being undertaken against the background that most rivers and water bodies in Ghana which used to be perennial were drying up.

In addition, there was degradation of vegetative cover at headwaters and along the banks of many river systems and other surface water bodies all resulting from increase in human settlements, urbanisation, poor agricultural practices and un-controlled logging and mining activities.

The Sector Minister said Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) mandated to provide safe, adequate and affordable water to urban population in the country operated 82 pipe-borne water systems with a total installed capacity of about 245 million gallons per day.

Urban water coverage as at the end of 2011 was 63.37 per cent, however, by end of the same year, production was about 150 million gallons per day while demand was 237 million gallons per day.

By the end of last year, the average monthly provision was 2.3 billion gallons of water which translated into a monthly billing of GH?11.933 million of which an average monthly collection of GH?10.85 million was made.

“Total national customer strength currently is only 438,034 of which 72 per cent are billed and 28 per cent unbilled”, Mr. Mensah indicated, adding, measures were being put in place to ensure that all who consume water, particularly sachet water producers pay commercial prices for water.

He said Kpong Water system established in 1965 to serve part of population of Accra and Tema township which was about 5,000 then, had never had any major rehabilitation of expansion until 1994 when the intake pumps were changed.

Till date, he said, the same system was being used to serve a greater number of people in the Eastern parts of Accra and that had created a problem in the delivery of water to the people.

Mr. Mensah said some of the challenges facing urban water service delivery were poor raw water quality, inadequate investment, obsolete infrastructure, encroachment and high commercial losses.

He said government had initiated some projects to improve the delivery of safe and affordable water in the country and these include the Koforidua Water Supply Project, Teshie Desalination Water Project, Kumasi Water Supply Project, Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area Rural Water Supply, Asante Mampong Water Supply Project, Kwahu Ridge, Konongo and Kumawu Water Supply Projects, Essakyir Water Supply Project and Nsawam Water Supply Project.

Others include Kpong Water Supply Expansion and Intake Rehabilitation Project, Sogakope-Lome Trans Water Supply Project, Wa Water Project, Bolgatanga Water Supply System, as well as other urban water management projects being undertaken to ensure adequate water supply to all Ghanaians.

He said government had partnered DANIDA, International Development Association of the World Bank, Agence Francaise Development (AFD) and Canadian Development Agencies to fund many water provision projects to address the challenges in water delivery in the country.

Under the Rural Water Sub-sector, the Sector Minister said, government would provide funding from the Consolidated Fund for the delivery of 20,000 boreholes over a five-year period from 2011 to 2015 and that GHC17 million had been provided this year for the drilling of the first batch of 1,090 boreholes.

"To date, 400 boreholes have been drilled out of the revised target of 1,090 and work on the others was in progress, " Mr Mensah added.**