Looming water crisis in Kumasi, as encroachment on Barekese Dam forest reserve for farming purposes intensifies
The water level in the Barekese Dam, which supplies water to the Kumasi metropolis and its environs, is gradually reducing pre-empting a looming water crisis in Kumasi in the coming years.
According to the Ashanti Regional Chief Manager of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Mr Obeng Boateng, a recent survey of the raw water reservoir indicated that the original volume of 35.3 million m3 has reduced to 25million m3.
He said the reduction was partly due to the clearing of the forest reserve, which protects the catchments of the Offin River, which empties into the Barekese Dam by neighbouring villages for farming activities.Pix. Parts of the forest which has been burnt in readiness for a farm.
On a visit to the forest reserve to inspect the extent of encroachment by some journalists and staff of the GWCL on World Water Day, it was detected that there was also serious logging going on in the forest reserve to the extent that trees planted by a timber firm in Kumasi, LLL for the GWCL have all been logged.
Farms have been constructed very close to the river bank with a number of vegetable farms springing up along the river bank.
At the time of the visit, parts of the forest had been cleared awaiting burning to be turned into farms.
Although the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has on numerous occasions appealed to neighbouring villages to desist from clearing the forest cover that seems to be falling on deaf ears.Pix. Parts of the forest which has been cleared in readiness for farming.
The Chiefs and people of Penteng, one of the neighbouring communities along the Offin river for instance have vowed to continue clearing the forest for farming purposes unless compensation were paid to them.
They claim compensation for the land have not been paid to them since the construction of the dam 35years ago and as a result their only source of livelihood depended on farming in the forest.
They claim while other communities such as Nkwantakese and Denase have all been paid their compensations, theirs were yet to be paid.
They also claim that they have on numerous occasions applied to supplied with pipe-borne water from the GWCL and have not received any responses even though other neighbouring communities such as Nkwantakese and Denase have all been getting pipe-borne water from the GWCL.
The Regional Chief Manager of GWCL explained that the delays in the payment of the compensations were as a result of inaccuracies in the documentation, which the Land Valuation Board was trying to resolve.
He said it was true that some of the people have been paid crop compensation with others yet to be paid and appealed to the residents of Penteng to exercise restraint and desist from encroaching in the forest reserve.
“Lack of patience is destroying this all important national asset”, he said.
Mr Boateng said the forest cover is purposely to prevent silt of rain water from entering the dam and this is to prevent siltation as well as prevent rapid evaporation of the dam from the intense sun and also to encourage rains around the area to fill the dam.
He said the trend of encroachment if not checked could put the dam in danger in the near future.
The idea of the Barekese Dam was muted in 1965 and a total land coverage of 10, 723.25 acres was acquired. Some villages were resettled at Asuofua.Pix. Parts of the cleared forest
Mr Boateng said that dredging of the dam was currently required if they have to increase the treatment plant capacity to more than 24million gallons a day.
The dam was originally designed to treat 48million gallons a day at full capacity but the machinery currently available can produce 18millions a gallons a day.
At the Barekese end of the forest someone has also constructed a fishpond on the boundary of the catchments forest by blocking one of the streams.
Mr Boateng said the blockage was seriously affecting the dam, especially during the dry season but efforts to get the owner of the fishpond to dismantle has fallen on deaf ears.
“Kumasi cannot lose this dam. It is the water pot and therefore the life of Kumasi”.Picture shows journalists glancing through the map of the forest reserve
Mr Boateng said the government was in the process of rehabilitating both the Owabi and Barekese Headworks and also expand the Barekese system by additional six million gallons a day.
He said the contract for the project has been signed and people should be grateful and not allow impatience to disrupt the important programme.
The Regional Chief Manager said water supply the world over was not sufficient and particularly in African and Asian countries and that was the reason why governments have been spending much of their budgets on water supply.
He called for support in the protection of water sources.