Freshwater resources are continually decreasing in quality and quantity. Approximately, 1% of this freshwater is accessible in lakes, river channels and underground for domestic use. The study reviewed literature on water resources with focus on freshwater, the quality of our freshwater in terms of physical, chemical and biological variables, the main mechanisms of management, and the challenges associated with these mechanisms as well as blending integrated water management with the indigenous or traditional management of water resources for sustainable development and peaceful co-existence. Also the review offered potent recommendations for policy makers to consider sustainable management of freshwater resources. A total of 95 articles were downloaded from Google scholar in water-related issues. The search took place from June to Sep- tember 2017, and research articles from 1998 to 2018 were reviewed. Basically Ghana is made up of three discharge or outlet systems, namely the Coastal River Systems which is the least and Volta constituting the largest and with the South-Western been the intermediate. Also, freshwater resources usage can be put into two main categories, namely ex situ (withdrawal use) and in situ or in-stream use, and could also be referred to as the consumptive and non-consumptive use, respectively. With the exception of localised pollution engineered by illegal mining and other nuisance perpetuated by indigenes, the quality of water (surface and groundwater) in Ghana is generally better. The review outlined high microbial contamination of water as almost all surface waters are contaminated with either E. coli, faecal coliforms or total coliforms or all. However, these contaminations were more prevalent in surface water than groundwater. Keywords Freshwater · Ghana · IWRM · Water quality · Water use Introduction of all forms of life, complementing our basic needs such as food production, as well as effectively contributing to socio-economic development. Water resources hold great If there is ever going to be a 3rd World War then it’s economic potential for agriculture, tourism, irrigation, trans- almost at our door steps and its definitely going to be port and industry (Nsubuga et al. 2014). It is near impossible about water, to curb this we need to take action now to get immediate and/or future replacement for most water (Kofi Annan). uses unlike other resources. Rapid pollution from mining Of all renewable natural resources, water is the most pre- and agricultural activities have compromised water quality cious of all and it is a basic requirement in the sustenance making it very expensive to treat for domestic use. However, it is a governable natural resource having the potential of being diversified, transported, stored, reused, and recycled * E. Yeleliere and possibly recoverable (Nsubuga et al. 2014). Water is a firstname.lastname@example.org naturally circulating resource that is constantly recharged. S. J. Cobbina Most parts of the world is surrounded by water, but we email@example.com lack accessibility to this resource especially potable water A. B. Duwiejuah needed to meet our fundamental needs such as food produc- firstname.lastname@example.org tion, health, sanitation and sustainable development (Owusu Department of Ecotourism and Environmental Management, et al. 2016). Water constitutes largely over seventy per cent Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, University (70%) of the earth’s surface and the singular entity to have for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana Vol.:(0123456789) 1 3 93 Page 2 of 12 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 ever existed naturally in all the three (3) states of matter and reports produced by non-governmental organisations across the globe. It is important to note that of all the water (NGOs), consultants and international entities. The quality on earth only 2.5% is made up of fresh water and it is dis- of groundwater and surface water resources keeps worsening tributed all around the world leaving less than one (1%) per mainly due to soaring levels of pollution from “galamsey” cent of fresh water accessible in lakes, river channels and (illegal mining), waste, leachate from chemical fertilisers underground (Food and Agriculture Organization of the and pesticides used in agriculture, chemicals from mining, United Nations 2003; WRC 2005). and use of chemicals in fishing coupled with rapid popula- In total, the world’s water resources are in excess of tion growth has entirely left Ghana’s water resources ungov- about 43,750 km per annum, which disperse widely across ernable. The existing water management strategies employed the world according to the physical features coupled with is not robust enough to cover the challenges. Over the past patchwork of climates. In the world, USA holds the largest 6 years and counting, Ghana’s per capita availability of water portion of the world’s total freshwater resources estimated resources is reducing daily. The effect of climate change to be about 45%; the second largest is Asia with over 28% leading to variability in precipitation is one of the challenges of freshwater resources, closely followed by Europe with our country faces at present, which often result in floods 15.50% and the other continents with 11.50%. However, in as we recorded the June 3 twin disaster in Accra, Ghana in respect of resources per inhabitant in each continent is esti- 2014. The review therefore seeks to assess water resources 3 3 3 mated: 24,000 m per annum, 9 300 m per annum, 5000 m with focus on freshwater, the challenges, the quality of fresh- per annum and 3400.1 m per annum in USA, Europe, Africa water in terms of chemical, physical and biological variables and Asia, respectively (FAO 2003). as well as blending integrated water management with the Fifty-two years ago, this indicator attained a supreme indigenous or traditional management of water resources for value of 4 276 in 1962 as at 2014. In Ghana as at 2014, the sustainable development and peaceful co-existence. renewable freshwater resources per capita were pegged at 1131. Basically, the freshwater resources in Ghana comprise surface water include Volta river system, South-Western The state of water resources in Ghana and Coastal River Systems (Ghana National Water Policy 2007). Basically due to growing populations and our con- Ghana’s water resources are categorised into ground water stant exploitation of this precious resource to meet, our fun- and surface water; however, there are also impoundments damental needs have jeopardised and corrupted the potential or reservoirs. The sources of surface water resources in use of freshwater resources. Also climate change as well Ghana are from three river systems, namely the Coastal river as fiscal factors coupled with environmental pollution from systems, South-Western and Volta (Ghana National Water waste (both municipal and industrial waste), leaching of Policy 2007) (Fig. 1). toxic chemicals from fertilisers and pesticides used in agri- culture, has further deepen the woes in the potential use of Surface water resources in Ghana this freshwater resource for our needs. A direct increase in pollution results in a decrease in the amount of operational Surface water resources are principally sourced from three water (Nsubuga et al. 2014). river mainstream discharges in Ghana notably: the Coastal Moreover, rapid increase in population across the globe, River, South-Western and Volta systems. The Red, Black notably in the developing countries, presents a significant and White Volta Rivers as well as the Oti River comprise threat to the water resource as well as been a threat to of the Volta river systems. The Bia Tano, Ankobra and sustainability prompting the need to carefully handle and protect the resource. The term ‘water management’ broad- ens over a several sort of activities and disciplines. Water Volta River system 8% resource management denotes the skilful, efficient as well as effective planning of the limited fresh water resources avail- 22% South-Western River able for consumption by populace. Water management can System be sectioned into three, namely managing water services, then managing the resource and managing the trade-offs Coastal River System 70% needed to equipoise demand and supply (United Nations 2014). In Ghana, though much has been done on water resources, Surface water resources in Ghana documentaries, news items and more significantly literature on water resources are more disjointed and not strongly incorporated in policy documents, strategic action plans Fig. 1 Surface water resources distribution in Ghana 1 3 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 Page 3 of 12 93 Pra rivers constitute the South-Western river systems. The metres per hour (Ghana National Water Policy 2007; WRC Tordzie/Aka, Densu, Ayensu, Ochi-Nakwa and Ochi-Amis- Ghana 2007). sah form the Coastal river systems (Ghana National Water Policy 2007). These river systems make up 70, 22 and 8%, Impoundments or reservoirs respectively, of the total land area of about 240,000 km . In addition, the sole natural freshwater lake in Ghana is Lake Reservoirs or dams and impoundments have been created for Bosumtwi. This is a meteoritic crater lake located in the the purpose of water supply, irrigation, hydroelectric power forest zone, with a surface area of 50 km and a maximum generation and ecosystem support. In 1964, Akosombo was depth of 78 m (Ghana National Water Policy 2007; WRC the first reservoir constructed for hydroelectric power; it Ghana 2012). was about 100 km from the flowing together of the Sea and the Volta. In the world, one of the largest man-made lakes Groundwater resources in Ghana is Akosombo dam which cover an area of about 8500 km and 148 km water volume capacity (Ghana National Water Ghana’s groundwater resources are made up of three geo- Policy 2007; Mensah 2010; WRC Ghana 2015). A rela- logical formations with 54, 45 and 1% for the basement tively smaller impoundment was constructed at Kpong with complex (metamorphic rocks and crystalline igneous), the a coverage area of about 40 km thus 17 years thereafter consolidated sedimentary formations, and the Cenozoic and (about 20 km downstream of Akosombo) (WRC 2012; WRC Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, respectively (Ghana National Ghana 2015). The Bui hydroelectric project with capacity of Water Policy 2007). Occurrence of groundwater in the base- 400 MW in the Black Volta was another impoundment cre- ment complex is linked to the development of secondary ated for the purpose of electricity. If the country were to har- porosity hence causing the fracturing, jointing, shearing and ness hydroelectric power from Pra River, then we did gener- weathering. Aquifers depth normally ranged from 10 to 60 m ate 125 MW from the facility. Other major impoundments in with yields hardly exceeding 6 metres cubic per hour (Ghana Ghana include the Barekese and Owabi supply (consumptive National Water Policy 2007; WRC Ghana 2012). The Ceno- water for Kumasi Metropolis), the Weija (supply water for zoic and Mesozoic formations that usually occur in the Accra), Nawuni (that supply water in and out of the Tamale extreme South Eastern and Western part of Ghana are also Metropolis) on the Rivers Densu, Volta and Offin (WRC limestone aquifers with depth range of 120 to 300 m. The 2012; WRC Ghana 2015) (Table 1). limestone aquifers have an average yield of about 184 cubic Table 1 Characteristics of some major reservoirs or impoundments in Ghana and their estimated annual generation rate or irrigation surface or abstraction rate. Source: Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (1998) and WRC (2005) Location River Main basin Capacity (× 1,000 m ) Annual energy generated/irrigation sur- face/rate of abstraction Akosombo Volta Volta 148 km 912 MWh Abesim Tano Tano 7330.06 2,443,353 m /y Barekese Offin Pra 89,588.52 29,862,840 m /y Bolgatanga Yaragaantanga White Volta 8100.00 2,700,000 m /y and 450 ha for irrigation Bui Volta Volta 400 MWh Daboase Pra Pra 29,880.36 9,960,120 m /y Hohoe Dayi Volta 2365.20 788,400 m /y Inchaban Anankwari Pra 19,973.10 6,657,700 m /y Kwanyako Ayensu Coastal 14,931.77 4977.25 m /y Kpong Volta Volta 160 MWh and 4000 ha for irrigation Kpong water works Volta lake Volta 232,588.17 77,530,000 m /y Koforidua Densu Densu 4966.92 1,655,640 m /y Weija Densu Densu 190,000 – Winneba Ayensu Coastal 2484.72 829,572 m /y Tamale Nawuni Volta 21,407.16 7,135,721 m /y Tono Tono Volta 3,760,286 2500 ha for irrigation Vea Vea Volta 816,000 2,400,000 m /y and 1000 ha for irrigation Owabi Offin Pra 15,329.91 5,109,971 m /y 1 3 93 Page 4 of 12 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 Usage of water resources in Ghana Non‑consumptive or in situ use An estimate of actual renewable water resources is Unlike consumptive water use, non-consumptive water or 3 3 in situ use is linked to activities that require no withdrawal 53.20 km per year with 30.30 km year being inter- nally generated. The annual runoff of 56.4 billion m of water from its main source. The major non-consumptive uses of water include water is contributed from all rivers with Volta River contrib- uting a massive 41.6 billion m . The mean annual run- transport, inland fisheries, hydropower generation and tourism (recreational activities like waterfalls) as well as off of 38.7 billion m is from the Volta basin in Ghana thus about 64.70% of the total annual runoff. The annual ecosystem support services. Reservoirs and impoundments are constructed to facilitate potable water, create platform runoff contribution from Volta is 64.70%, 29.20% from South-Western and 6.10% from Coastal system in Ghana for irrigation and the core been hydroelectric power gen- eration. Since, water is not withdrawn for these uses, it (Ghana National Water Policy 2007; Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing 2012). In terms of fresh- is practically impossible to estimate the actual quantity of water required. However, It is projected that by 2020 water resources usage, the two main categories are ex situ (withdrawal use) and in situ or in-stream use and could Ghana will require supply of 1,733,380 cubic metres of non-consumptive use of water, of which 378,430 cubic also be referred to as the consumptive and non-consump- tive use, respectively. metres would be used for hydropower generation (Ghana National Water Policy 2007; Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing 2012) (Table 2). Consumptive use or ex situ use Freshwater quality With the consumptive use, basically water is withdrawn or taken from its main source. “Water intake” refers to The quality of naturally occurring surface waters and the quantity withdrawn, usually some part of this water is consumed or lost and the remaining quantity seeps into groundwater some years back was generally good except until the recent phenomenon of localised pollution due to the original source. The quantity of water that does not returned to the water body is commonly referred as the the discharge of sewage into water bodies from industrial and domestic activities, leaching of fertilizers and pesti- “water consumption” The most consumptive uses of water in Ghana are cides used in agriculture, with the most recent and alarm- ing canker being illegal artisanal mining denoted (‘galam- municipal use (water supply) 37%, 48% for agricultural use (livestock watering and irrigation) and 15% for indus- sey’) (USAID 2011). This has become a constant menace as almost all water resources located close to mining areas trial use. For surface water resources alone, it is projected that consumptive water demand would reach 5 billion are seriously polluted. The alarming rate of this destruc- tion has prompted the government of Ghana under the hos- m by 2020, that is equivalent to 12% of the total surface water resources (WRC 2005) (Fig. 2). pices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to designate special task force to fight this menace and safe- guard our water resources. Also use of chemicals in fish- ing coupled with rapid population growth has entirely left our water resources ungovernable (Nsubuga et al. 2014). Discharges of untreated sewage from municipal waste have Domestic (Municipal water supply) resulted in serious pollution of water in most urban set- 15% tings. Lagoons and Rivers situated near industrial areas are gradually perishing due to the discharge of untreated Agricultural use (irrigated and 37% municipal waste from domestic and industrial effluent livestock watering that causes odour and nutrient enrichment leading to algal bloom. An example of such a polluted lagoon in Ghana is Industrial use the Korle Lagoon in Accra (WRC 2015). Water quality 48% is an embodiment of all aspect of physical, chemical and biological features. The main water quality characteristics of streams, rivers and lakes include the physical, chemical Percentage distribution of consumptive use of wate r and biological features which are of prime importance to water engineers (Owusu et al. 2016). Fig. 2 Distribution of consumptive or ex situ use of freshwater resources 1 3 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 Page 5 of 12 93 Table 2 Estimated values Demand Year for consumptive and non- 3 3 3 consumptive use of freshwater 2000 (million m ) 2010 (million m ) 2020 (million m ) % Withdrawals resources from 2000 to 2020 Rural centres 166.6 231.9 321 0.6 Source: Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing Urban centres 320.6 523.6 616 1.2 (1998) and WRC (2005) Domestic/industrial water 487.2 755.5 937 1.8 Other sectors Hydro-energy 37,843 37,843 37,843 90.2 Irrigated agriculture 617.45 2132.42 4114.42 5.46 Livestock 31.9 49.1 74.8 0.12 Freshwater resources 53,200 – – – Fishing – – – – Mining – – – – Water Transport – – – – Tourism – – – – Cumulative use of domes- 487.24 755.45 937 1.76 tic and industrial water Cumulative demand 38,979.59 40,779.79 42,969.22 colour value (30–90 TCU against a guideline value of 15 Physical variables TCU) and turbidity (6–54 NTU against a guideline value of 5 NTU). Physical properties of groundwater Chemical variables Saana et al. (2016) study reported temperature as part of the physical variable which ranged between 28.80 and Chemical properties of groundwater 32.80 °C. The study also revealed that turbidity and true colour of the water samples ranged between 0.13–105 NTU Saana et al. (2016) reported the mean concentrations of and 5–130 Hz, respectively. Sarpong (2014) in a study indi- 0.06 mg/l for iron, 22.11 mg/l for calcium, 29.84 mg/l for cated that temperature and turbidity vary in concentration in magnesium, 13.97 mg/l for chloride, 0.00 mg/l for fluoride, relation to required standards. Cobbina et al. (2010) reported 0.00 mg/l for aluminium, 0.00 mg/l for arsenic, 0.01 mg/l for the colour of water which ranged from 5 to 750 Hz with a ammonium, 2.09 mg/l for nitrate and 0.26 mg/l for nitrite. mean 175 Hz, turbidity from 0.65 to 568 NTU with a mean In addition, the mean total hardness value was 178.07 mg/l, 87.9 NTU. 55.28 mg/l for calcium hardness and 122.79 mg/l for mag- nesium hardness. Also, 6.14 to 7.50 pH units for pH, 48 to Physical properties of surface water 240 mg/l for total alkalinity, 80.10 to 524 mg/l for TDS and 131 to 873 μS/cm for electrical conductivity. Ansa-Asare and Gordon (2012) reported the mean turbidity Affum et al. (2015) reported toxic elements, hard- levels in Densu Basin were higher than that of Ayensu and ness and salinity pollution as the main factors affecting Birim basins and exceeded WHO standards for domestic use. the quality of groundwater. Mineral dissolution, cation The low turbidity indicates higher primary productivity of exchange and silicate weathering influenced the quality Ayensu Basin. Leslie (2010) in a study revealed pollution of of groundwater. The order of major ions of the water was Aboabo River since colour, odour, turbidity and taste levels + 2+ + 2+ − 2− − Na > Ca > K > Mg and Cl > SO > HCO . Piper exceeded WHO stipulated limits for potability. Asamoah- 4 3 plot and the hydrogeology of study showed a water type of Boateng (2009) indicated high turbidity and total suspended 86% of sodium chloride and 14% of sodium hydrogen car- solids values exceeded WHO and Ghana Standard Author- bonate and sodium carbonate. The As and Cd concentration ity standard for potability and were attributable to mining of 79 and 43%, respectively, exceeded the WHO guideline activities. limits of 10 μg/L and 3 μg/L for potability exception of Hg. Karikari and Ansa-Asare (2006) reported high levels of Sarpong (2014) reported pH, conductivity, alkalinity turbidity which was attributed to poor farming practices that and amount of oxygen that varied in concentrations. Mean lead to saltation of the river during runoff. Goski (1999) conductivity ranged from 68.36–581.22 µS/cm, with the reported that physically, the quality of water in the Densu alkalinity, DO and pH values within WHO and Ghana River basin can be said to be poor as suggested by the high 1 3 93 Page 6 of 12 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 Standards Authority permissible limits. Asante (2012) fertilizer use, household effluents and other anthropogenic reported groundwater pH ranged between 5.77 and 6.56 point sources. The study showed low metal contamination of and electrical conductivity ranged between 360.17 and the river as the trace metal levels were low concentrations. 957.12 μS/cm. Also, contaminants resulting from mining Goski (1999) revealed that pH ranged from 7.50 to detected in water samples were: As (< 0.001–0.002 mg/l), 8.40 pH units and conductivity (162–681 μS/cm). Also, Cn (0.002–0.036 mg/l), Mn (0.100–0.72 mg/l) and Fe high phosphate level of the Densu River ranged from 0.01 (0.32–3.035 mg/l). Cobbina et al. (2010) reported total to 1.20 mg/l, iron had values ranging between 0.20 and iron that ranged from 0.07 to 7.85 mg/l (mean 1.0 mg/l) 1.59 mg/l, which exceeded the WHO guideline value of and manganese from 0.03 to 1.59 mg/l (mean 0.50 mg/l). 0.30 mg/l, and chloride had values within 9.20–112.0 mg/l. Also, Nkansah et al. (2010) reported pH that ranged between Also, BOD levels ranged from 0.77 to 9.90 mg/l and dis- 6.30 and 7.0 pH units, 46–682 μS/cm for electrical con- solved oxygen levels ranged from 1.60 to 9.40 mg/l. 3− ductivity, 0.67–76.00 mg/l for PO , 0.20–0.80 mg/l for − − − F , 0.0–0.97 mg/l for NO , 0.0–0.06 mg/l for NO , Biological variables of water resources 3 2 2− 3.00–7.00 mg/l for SO , 0.0–1.20 mg/l for Fe and 0.0–0.02 mg/l for Mn. Biological variables of groundwater Chemical properties of surface water Saana et al. (2016) reported that 14% out of the total water samples collected tested positive for faecal coliforms and A study by Asante (2012) reported surface water pH exceeded WHO guidelines limit of zero colony-forming levels that ranged between 6.57 and 7.14 pH units and unit/100 ml for drinking water. Affum et al. (2015 ) reported 451.67–774.72 μS/cm for electrical conductivity. However, the absence of E. coli in the water sampled, but wells con- mining-related contaminants detected in water samples were: tained total coliforms (Enterobacter species) that was 36%. As for < 0.001–0.002 mg/l, Cu for 0.002–0.04 mg/l, Mn for All but one of the hand-dug wells and boreholes showed fae- 0.10–0.72 mg/l and Fe for 0.32–3.04 mg/l. Ansa-Asare and cal contamination with levels above WHO and GSA guide- Gordon (2012) reported that all the pH values for the rivers lines. The counts of the total coliform, faecal coliform and ranged between 6.5 and 8.5 pH units. The electrical con- the E. coli differed significantly (p = 0.005) between the vari- ductivity levels followed the order: Densu > Ayensu > Birim ous water sources sampled. Cobbina et al. (2010) reported of the River basins; the order was much depended on the coliform counts in water from all the dugouts in both wet human activities in the basin. Also, Ammonia–nitrogen and dry seasons were, however, above the recommended followed this order in terms of the river basins: Ayensu limits for drinking water. Faecal and total coliforms ranged (0.16 mg/l) < Birim (0.27 mg/l) < Densu (0.36 mg/l). The between < 1–19,000 cfu/100 ml (mean of 1310 cfu/100 ml) basins had NO-N concentration that ranged from 0.01 to and 125–68,000 colony-forming units/100 ml (mean of 3.96 mg/l (1.89 mg/l) for Densu, 0.21–6.48 mg/l (2.55 mg/l) 10,623 cfu/100 ml), respectively. Nkansah et al. (2010) indi- for Birim and 0.001–8.17 mg/l (2.63 mg/l) for Ayensu. cated E. coli and total coliform were below the minimum TDS and total hardness also showed a similar pattern of detection limit of 20 MPN per 100 ml in the samples. Birim < Ayensu < Densu. This was due to frequent domes- tic use impacting on Densu basin as compared to the other Biological variables of surface water basins. Asamoah-Boateng (2009) indicated clearly that arsenic, Leslie (2010) reported that faecal coliforms count for water iron and lead were the most predominant mining-related sampled at all stations were above 300 × 10 /100 ml and had metallic pollutants found in all the water bodies. This was exceeded the WHO guidelines of 0/100 ml for domestic use. attributable to the perceived natural climatological and Asamoah-Boateng (2009) revealed high microbial counts in geological conditions. Karikari and Ansa-Asare (2006) all the water bodies that suggested high bacterial pollution reported that the pH of the water was in 7.20–7.48 pH units making the water unwholesome for domestic use. Karikari range and seasonal variation did not affect the water. The and Ansa-Asare (2006) attested that the microbial quality study revealed that river waters were moderately soft to of the river water was poor and far below the standard for slightly hard (91.20–111 mg/l CaC O of hardness). High domestic use. The finding was attributable to direct con- nutrient loads were observed in the basin and the study tamination by human and animal excreta and other activities attributed it to agricultural, domestic and industrial activi- such as washing of clothes and swimming. The River water ties. The general ionic dominance pattern of the water was cannot be used for domestic purposes without any form of Na > Ca > Mg > K, and HCO > Cl > SO which is an inter- treatment. Goski (1999) reported that total coliform and fae- 3 4 mediate between freshwater system and sea water system. cal coliform counts ranged from 100 to 1940 count/100 ml The chloride dominance over sulphate was due to activities, and this indicated poor sanitary conditions in the Basin. 1 3 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 Page 7 of 12 93 Ahafo if not worse, as residents have been blocking the Fresh water pollution and looming crises course of the river at definite intervals which prevents in Ghana water from flowing into some areas in the Region (Man- tey 2017). The recent lack of water in Sunyani was not due More of the population could have safe drinking water to equipment but farming activities, where the residents facilities if the ongoing anthropogenic activities in Ghana blocked the river course in order to irrigate farms (Mantey are gapped with the great efforts made by the traditional 2017). and local government authorities in Ghana. About 60% The Black Volta in the Upper West Region is also polluted. of water bodies in Ghana are polluted with most of them This coupled with rapid population growth has engineered in critical condition (Ampomah 2017). The quantity and Ghana Water Company to set up a new water treatment plant quality of fresh water are still a major problem in most in order to compliment the production of safe drinking water countryside of Ghana as people have to use rainwater, (Mantey 2017). The Ashanti Region is battling with the same surface water, and shallow groundwater as their drinking pollution problem. According to Mantey (2017), the Enu River water sources. Due to the persistent widespread in ille- which serves residents at Konogo in the Ashanti Region is pol- gal mining activities, pollution of water bodies occurs luted due to illegal mining activities. The basic activity caus- mostly in the south-western parts of Ghana. According to ing pollution of water bodies in the Northern Region is sand Ampomah (2017) industrial waste, illegal mining, farm- winning, whilst galamsey activities are responsible for water ing and household disposals are the major causes of water bodies’ pollution in some regions (Mantey 2017). The Nawuni pollution in Ghana; hence traditional and local government River in the Northern region of Ghana has experienced mas- authorities need to help in the protection of water bodies. sive sand winning activities and that has continuosly altered There is urgent need to improve the quality of fresh water the color of the River (Mantey 2017). Globally, water pollution bodies in those areas. has become a problem now a days this call for evaluation of It is indisputable fact that fresh water resources in water resource policy to counter this pollution problem. Ghana are under threat as water resources are running dry and increasingly becoming scarce by the day. Managers of Water resource management water treatment plants in Ghana are forced to shut down due to pollution that is making cost of water treatment of Water resource is one of the most permeate natural resources water bodies very expensive. previously viewed as a free good with unlimited quantity According to Mantey (2017) fresh water bodies in the (Ghana National Water Policy 2007). However, water as a following regions of Ghana have been polluted due to resource is increasingly becoming scares and low in qual- illegal mining activities. River Pra, Daboase, and River ity as a result of rapid population growth, urbanisation Ankobra that are the main water bodies in the Western and diversified use such as fisheries, irrigation, industrial Region have been polluted. Birim in the Eastern Region processes, hydropower generation and ecosystem support as the main water body has been polluted. Due to that services (Ghana National Water Policy 2007). Shaw (2005) water treatment plants in Kyebi were forced to shut down estimated that, globally, 12 million deaths can be attributed due to pollution of the river which is beyond treatment. to water scarcity in many given years stressing even the need This challenge has compelled the Ghana Water Company for appropriate water resources management. Water resource to construct boreholes which will serve smaller masses. management denotes the skilful, efficient and effective plan- The problem extends to the new Juaben communities ning of the fresh water resources that are scarce for efficient and Koforidua where fresh water bodies around those use by all living organisms. These resources are made up communities have been polluted due to fishing activities. of all groundwater and surface water that can be treated Mantey (2017) asserted that they use to use very minimal for purpose of human use. Water resources management in chemicals in treating the water from Volta River, but cur- Ghana can be broadly put into three categories, namely cus- rently the chemical usage is high due to gradual increase in tomary laws and practices (traditional approach), statute law pollution. The Densu River in the Greater Accra Region, or legal dimension (constitutional approach) and the most which draws its water source from Western Accra that is recent been the integrated water management (interdiscipli- situated around the Weija dam, has been polluted due to nary approach). industrial waste and farming activities. This has complied Ghana Water Company to use chemicals to address the Traditional approach to water resources pollution issue. management In the Central Region, some water bodies particularly in Cape Coast have been polluted due to galamsey activi- Water is the most treasured natural resource in the Ghana ties (Mantey 2017). The situation is not different in Brong culture. It is a traditional resource used to perform various 1 3 93 Page 8 of 12 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 functions like pouring libation aside from the domestic use evolve which were used for the water resource management (Ofori-Boateng 1977). The main supplies of water in the and conservation (Opoku-Agyeman 2001). customary regime are springs, streams, rivers and wells However, conflicts that emanate from water resources use though there are proliferation of dams and boreholes in the were squarely handled by traditional authorities. They drove new age of the twenty-first century. However, with the avail- their wisdom from past experience and prevailing rules and ability of these sources of water supplies there is entirely no regulations as well as authoritative command specified by institution or office mandated or tasked under the custom- the chiefs and elders. The judgment made by these tribu- ary regime to provide water for indigenes (Mensah 1999). nals was abided by due to the fear for the fetish priestesses This could be attributable to the fact that water is a common and priests. The power of enforcement exercised by chiefs resource (tragedy of the common) with no clear ownership included the power to ostracise an offender from the commu- though that mandate is vested on the chiefs and the tradi- nity for non-compliance to any verdict (Sarpong 1993–1995; tional authorities. Mensah 1999; Opoku-Agyeman 2001). Water in its natural state cannot be privately owned. Due to colonisation and the advent of dynamism in cul- There is no clear distinction as to ownership of water in the ture as well as the proliferation of western religions, the customary practice; it varies from community to community. venom of customary rule has significantly diminished and Surface water is considered as a public property in most ineffective for water usage rules enforcement. This has also communities in Ghana; for others, the onus lies on the king substituted the traditional authorities’ powers with that of or chief and his kinsmen. The fact is that the king or chief the governor and successively the executive after independ- holds the water in trust for his people therefore; the chiefs ence and laws imposed by the colonial power or ordinances and their kinsmen control manage and regulate the use of enacted or by the legislature have replaced customary edicts water resources. In some communities in the northern part propounded by traditional authorities. Customary law for of Ghana, chiefs and queens are assigned to specific stream, the enforcement of norms on water usage has now paled rivers and wells (Opoku-Agyeman 2001). into irrelevance and is practices only in rural communities. Customary law, however, evolved rules that ensure equi- table use and quality of water resources is maintained and standardised in the communities. Statutory laws (legal acts) on water As part of the management strategies adopted by the local resources management authorities, implements or containers used to fetch water are also regulated and monitored. The local authorities outline The birth of the 1992 constitution paved way for establish- specific rules to manage water resources usually engineered ment of legislative instrument, and the enactment of laws by fetish priestesses and priests though these may slightly though these laws did not spell out any establishment of an vary depending on the location. Containers such as cala- institutional basis for water resources regulation. However, bashes, earthenware pot, and lately buckets are accepted for related resources such as fisheries, forestry and land were the drawing water. Also, some communities generate com- establishment of Fisheries, Minerals and Lands Commis- monsensical rules banning the use of dirty bucket for collec- sions tasked to manage and coordinate policy in connec- tion of water and prevention of women from fetching water tion with these resources. These Commissions activities during menstruation period especially in rivers. Generally, have, however, impacted the water resources sector. Water there are particular days set aside for people not to go into resources commission pursuant to the Water Resources the river or the sea. Also, there is prohibition of farming Commission Act, 19961 for proper management of Ghana along river banks as they are considered as resting abode for water resources, inter alia. The Act is the main instrument river gods. Sanctions for rules violation are by slaughtering that directs water use and its management in Ghana. of sheep to sanctify the gods or ancestors, payment of fines to community elders or the provision of schnapps, local chief Water acts and regulations for water resource or the priests or priestesses (Sarpong 1993-1995; Mensah management in Ghana 1999; Opoku-Agyeman 2001). Aside from penal sanctions like infliction of fines and sac- The major Acts enacted by the State in the quest to manage rifices, religious and cultural beliefs, norms and values are Ghana’s water resources include: also crucial means of ensuring compliance with the custom- ary rules on water supply. Pronouncement made by chiefs, Dam safety regulation 2016, (LI 2236), priestesses and priests is strongly adhered to and disobedi- Riparian buffer zone policy, 2011, ence of such edicts is prone to grave repercussion with the Drilling license and groundwater regulation 2006, (LI worst been death sentences for victims. Customary rules 1827), laid the foundation for enforceable regulations and rules to Water use regulation 2001, (LI 1692), 1 3 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 Page 9 of 12 93 Water resource commission Act 19961, Act 522. Undoubtedly, successful implementation of the IWRM plan will be depended on existing institutions and struc- Regulatory institutions in Ghana tures. High levels of collaboration among stakeholders and agencies have already been developed by WRC; this will Institutions mandated to direct control and manage the be maintained and further strengthened. NGOs/Commu- standard of water include: nity-Based Organisations, MMDAs, and other civil society groups at the decentralised level that work together within a Water Resources Commission (WRC), water resource are usually tasked to take charge and coordi- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nate management of water resources activities by deploying National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP), the management at the lowest level. Finally, in the IWRM Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC). implementation plan monitoring and evaluation are very key element. As progress towards objectives and goal can Integrated water resources management (IWRM) be pursued and draw lessons for performance improvement. For sustainable, equitable and efficient water resources Challenges of WRM in Ghana use, there is the need for fully implementation of IWRM which is an integrated approach. Basically the customary It is worth acknowledging that a lot have been done for and statutory laws have failed to address challenges associ- the development of legal, political and institutional frame- ated with water resources management, hence the need to work for management of water resource in Ghana and even adopt efficient and robust approach to arresting the menace. beyond. However, the country still faces numerous chal- IWRM referred to a process that promotes the coordination lenges in its quest to meet the current and future needs. Some of management and development of land, water and related of the gaps in water resources management (thus customary resources, in order to maximise the social welfare and result- laws and practices, statutory and IWRM) in Ghana include ant economic in an equitable way without cooperating the vital ecosystems sustainability (Global Water Partnership Existing water laws and regulations are not properly 2000). Operationally, IWRM approaches involve applica- enforced; hence they are not robust enough to address tion of diverse knowledge from disciplines and insights from the menace. stakeholders to devise and implement equitable, efficient and The acts do not provide mechanisms to reconcile cus- sustainable solutions and development problems of water tomary law and practices with statutory laws in the con- (GWP 2000). IWRM is a means of achieving three thematic stitutional discourse. Thus, the enactment of these acts objectives of efficiency, equity and sustainability. has dully denied traditional authorities the mandate. The local authorities should be empowered and given consti- tutional mandate to prosecute or apply customary laws Implementation of IWRM in Ghana by Water and practices in the water resources management. Resources Commission (WRC) Lack of involvement of community in decision making as the top-down approach is still more prevalent. These Ghana followed the formal international recommendations resources are located in these communities; hence its (WSSD Plan of Implementation) and conventions made on management should be bottom-up approach where com- developing IWRM by the ECOWAS through national plan- munity members as well as traditional authorities can ning. However, since the manifestation of IWRM in 1990, take part in decision making regarding water resources Ghana has ever since put in laudable legal, political, and management. institutional frameworks as effort to sustain the implementa- Lack of regulations on surface water especially dam tion of IWRM. safety and control of domestic and industrial effluent The IWRM Plan document provides summaries of the discharge and sewage outfalls current baseline situation of the bio-physical context, the Climate change and climate variability impacts on water socio-economic context, water demands, water resources resources are inadequate and often insufficiently incor - potential, the water sharing among the neighbouring coun- porated described in sectoral management strategies of tries along with the current framework management as water (National IWRM Plan–Water Resources Commis- specified by the legal instruments and roles and functions sion 2015). of water institutions. Early warning systems and mitigation of effects of Management of water resources concerns is cross cut- droughts and floods are insufficient (National IWRM ting in order to achieve the outcomes of the plan will neces- Plan–Water Resources Commission 2015). sitate a collective effort to influence some other sectors. 1 3 93 Page 10 of 12 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 the past. Attitudinal change cannot ensue overnight; how- Way forward (future prospect) in Ghana’s Water Resource Management ever well-planned awareness creation and proper advocacy as well as behavioural change public services to these miners Aside from the managerial gaps in water resources manage- can make the currently situation better. Moreover, education must be intensified especially when giving license to small- ment, other constraints of WRM include illegal mining, bad or improper agricultural practices (the new phenomenon of scale mining operators as well periodic monitoring of their operation to ensure their operations are in conformity with chemical farming) leading to eutrophication, waste disposal and management, clearing of the forest (timber extraction) the established standards. Nevertheless, alternative jobs or livelihood should be created by the government to get their and climate change. What can be done to ameliorate the situation, thus look- miners engaged. ing for possible ways or solutions towards management of Ghana’s water resources? Specific roles or responsibilities must be assigned to stakeholder or the architects in water resources Incorporating customary water management management Until 1996 where the WRC was established and task with Most of water resources in Ghana are situated in rural areas. Hence, it is best to appropriately assign specific duties to the constitutional mandate to manage water resources in the country, the customary laws and practices were the best bet various stakeholders in the community as to how they can help in the governance of water resources and its related for effective water resources management in Ghana. This customary laws and practices did not disappoint though ecosystems by the roles assigned to them. In order to effec- tively and efficiently carry out this mandate, they should there were gaps in terms of equity as the traditional authori- ties could not make water resources more accessible to all be adequately equipped with materials needed to do so. Moreover, the traditional authorities should be task with the but evolved rules that ensures quality and equitable use of water resources among communities. responsibility of improving communities’ sanitation as this would also help protect fresh water bodies. Co‑existence between the customary laws Adopting renewable energy sources and practices as well as the statutory laws Climate change has eluded local, regional and national con- There should be a need for a reconciliation of the traditional management (customary laws) and statutory laws to effec- cerns and has become to be can a renowned global issue that has a toil on water resources. Concerted efforts have tively address water resources management problems. Thus, judicial mechanism should be developed for settling con- constantly been made through the adoption of various inter- national protocols like the Montreal, Kyoto among others flicts, disputes that arise from water resources management. to mitigate this global canker. In Ghana, climate change is evident through the irregular rainfall patterns that have led Sensitisation and education on the menace of illegal mining and creating alternative livelihood activities to various floods that have recently wreaked havoc and the drought pattern experienced some countryside. This phe- for victims nomenon is mostly stimulated by anthropogenic activities that have increase the levels of greenhouse gases resulting Illegal mining have taken a toe in the limited water resources, destroying a lot of fresh water bodies in Ghana. in global warming and eventually climate change. Most of the rural communities in Ghana are entirely Severally governments have made attempts to mitigate or if possible arrest the problem, but the problem still persists dependent on trees as their primary sources of energy through felling of trees for timber, fuel wood, charcoal to date. Government has often times deployed task force and security agents for instance the military to visit these among others and this has been the main contribution to cli- mate change. Though there are sophisticated technologies to site and have culprits arrested yet people still go back. The menace has been evident through the loss of live through address the release of GHG’s from fuels used in vehicles, the increase in number of these cars in the system is worrying. collapse of pits that ended up killing some of their members and even the security as we recently witness in the loud In addressing this, the minimal usage of charcoal is encouraged and replaced with liquefied petroleum gas by cry of Captain Mahama’s death. There is a need to increase awareness of illegal mining menace to these illegal opera- former President John Mahama of Ghana (in his admin- istration) tried to achieve by giving out some cylinders to tors and the risk it poses to future generations. It is only until change in attitude towards environmental sustainability some rural people since, they rely a lot on wood for cooking. Also, another viable means of mitigating climate change is occurs that the problem of illegal mining will be a thing of 1 3 Applied Water Science (2018) 8:93 Page 11 of 12 93 through the use of hydroelectric power to meet energy needs sensitisation and education, assignment of specific role as which Ghana as a country is using though there are current well as adopting renewable sources of energy. The adop- challenges with the hydropower system. This has not limited tion and implementation of these suggestions will bring the use of more renewable sources of energy to meet current about effective and efficient water resources management energy demand as the venture into new emerging forms of for sustainable development and peaceful co-existence. energy sources such as wind and solar. The country has what The water resources will be able to support current genera- it takes to harness this, as there is abundance of sun particu- tions in quality and quantity as well as future generations. larly in northern Ghana, the only challenge could probably Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Crea- be finance (cost). tive Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creat iveco mmons.or g/licenses/b y/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribu- tion, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Conclusion Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Notably, freshwater resources are continually decreasing in quality and quantity. 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Published: Jun 1, 2018
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