Impact of Illegal Mining Activities on Cost of Water Treatment in Ghana

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Background: Illegal mining activities (IMA) in Ghana have been associated with pollution of surface water, straining the infrastructural and financial resources of water treatment plants. The effects of IMA on the cost of water treatment was compared between two water treatment plants in the Central Region, Ghana: Sekyere-Heman water treatment plant (SHWTP) and Bafikrom water treatment plant (BKWTP), with sources from rivers Pra (IMA upstream) and Ochi (no IMA), respectively.

Methods: Data were collected from April 2011 to December 2012 to investigate the impact of IMA on the physicochemical properties of pretreated water from the two rivers and the cost of water treatment. Parameters including pH, color, turbidity, aluminum (Al), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), nitrates and sulfates were analyzed using standard analytical techniques. Descriptive statistics were used in analyzing the datasets and Pearson’s rank correlation was used to establish relations between the parameters and the cost of water treatment.

Results: Color, turbidity as well as Mn, Fe, Al and sulfates concentrations were significantly higher in pretreated water supplying SHWTP compared to that of the BKWTP (p<0.01). The average cost of treatment per 10,000 m3 of water was 4-fold higher in SHWTP than in BKWTP (589.22 GHC vs. 115.23 GHC; p<0.001). Water treatment costs were found to be positively correlated with color, turbidity and Mn concentration (p<0.05).

Conclusions and Implications: These results suggest that IMA increase levels of water contaminants, which in turn increases the cost of water treatment. Ghanaian policymakers should assess and address the health and economic implications of IMA.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Atlanta, GA