The Ghana Water Company says it has identified cancer-causing chemicals in the Pra River which serves as a source of drinking water for residents of some communities in the Western Region.
Managing Director of the company, Fred Lokko, says the chemicals were released into the river through the activities of illegal miners, which have polluted the river, and threatening lives. He tells Joy news the company is having difficulties dealing with the challenge.
Environmentalists and locals living along the river have been drawing government’s attention to the harmful effects of illegal mining on the river as well as logging along it’s borders.
An engineer, Magnus Lincoln Quarshie has also observed that “the widespread use of mercury in illegal mining has led to a situation where mercury poisoning is highly likely if you use the river for domestic purposes”.
“This can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, deformities, nausea, dizziness, kidney failure, neurological disorders, hypertension and need I say death. Arsenic and other heavy metals are also used to extract the gold too”, he noted.
Some residents now fear using the river for domestic purposes could cause health problems.
The Pra Basin is located between Latitudes 50 N and 70 30’ N, and Longitudes 20 30’ W, and 00 30’ W, in south-central Ghana. The Pra River, together with its tributaries, forms the largest river basin of the three principal south-western basins systems of Ghana (i.e. Ankobra, Tano and Pra).
The main Pra River takes its source from the highlands of Kwahu Plateau in the Eastern Region and flows for some 240km before entering the Gulf of Guinea near Shama in the Western Region.
The main tributaries of the Pra River are the Offin, Anum and Birim rivers. The Birim valley is a major source of diamonds. Another is the Bosomase Rapids at Anyinabrim.
The entire Pra Basin covers 41 administrative districts.
Rapid depletion of forest cover through mining, farming, and settlement development is a challenge.