Aquaya Institute on Thursday, 30th June held its periodic meeting with Water System Managers to deliberate on results from testing water systems over the past six months within the District. The meeting which had water system managers from Kenyasi, OLA resettlement, Ntotroso Main, Ntotroso resettlement, Kensere, Gambia, and DA cluster of schools form part of efforts to ensure quality and safe water is provided to residents of the District.
Programs Officer for Aquaya Institute, Bashiru Yachor explained parameters for testing consisted of E. coli (fecal matter), pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), turbidity, and colour. He indicated that results from the tests conducted identified the presence of fecal matter in two water systems at Gambia 2 chief palace and market center making it unsafe to drink. It also indicated low pH levels below the WHO range of 6.5 to 8.5 in some systems. He added that Low pH, however, may not harm customers but it contributes to corrosion of galvanised iron whiles results from the other parameters however indicated no major concerns. Water system managers of systems with fecal matter were advised to conduct chlorination to ensure the safety of the water, with those recording low pH levels advised to be extra vigilant about identifying potential faults where pipes or parts may have been corroded. He stressed that Ntotroso main and Ntotroso resettlement systems recorded a total favorable result whiles testing, however, could not be done on Kenyasi piped systems due to the breakdown of their pumps which have resulted in no water flow over months.
Presenting on some challenges being faced by the water systems, Ntotroso resettlement system manager, Azumah Wale complained that galamsey activities in his area have resulted in intermittent flows, which in turn has caused reduced payments of bills whiles the Chairman of the D/A cluster of schools complained about the theft of tap heads. He explained they remove them every time the vendor closes and are contemplating buying rubber taps.
For the Kenyasi WaterManagement Board, fixing its pumps was a major challenge due to financial constraints. The system manager expressed his displeasure as management has no revenue since water production is little to none and is unable to pay their staff.
Regarding payments of debts from some institutions and the central government’s free water policy are yet to be paid. Some residents, also, can still access water when their pipes are disconnected over non-payment due to the availability of alternative private water systems.
Bashiru Yachori commended managers of the DA cluster system for the revenue generated by their system so far. He also commended Ntotroso main and Resettlement and extolled achieving chlorine residual levels contents in their water.
District Planning Officer, Bismack Asante Kyere commenting on the results said “people can sue you, the system management if they contract illness from drinking water you provide, and as a matter of urgency, we will visit the systems and see how best to deal with these issues".
The District Water Engineer, Obeng Opoku addressed the issue of the non-performance of board members and highlighted the issue of the poor capacity of some board members of the system. As such, measures are in place to reconstitute new management teams with much focus on recruiting members with some level of experience in small-town water management. He further instructed Ntotroso the resettlement manager, to include chemical and metal testing to their list of tests because the galamsey activities which have affected their pipes may contaminate their water as well.
Discussing the way forward, the District Planning Officer implored operators to ensure they provide wholesome water to customers. Also, Bashiru Yachori explained piloting is currently being done to find financially and efficiently the best options to treat water contamination. The testing agreement however ended on June 30th and USAID is expected to finance a new agreement. Water systems must show interest and commitment, be willing to show interest in training programs, data collection, and documentaries, and not owe more than three rounds of testing to benefit from the new testing agreement.