Title: The potential effect of mining on water quality in Tarkwa Nsuaem municipality in the Western Region, Ghana
Authors and Affiliations: Mawuli Dzodzomenyo1, Millicent Asare, H. Noye-Nortey, Isabella Quakyi
1Department of Biological, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon
Abstract: Introduction: Mining-related processes that can influence surface water quality include physical disturbances of land, removal of vegetation that increase erosion of soils and sediment loading to streams. Chemical changes in water quality related to mining can result from discharges of treated and untreated process and waste waters as well as seepage from mine facilities. Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality has mining sites located in the municipal area and most of the communities rely on ground water for their domestic use.
Aim of study: Generally, the study aims to assess the effects that mining operations have on water quality. Specifically, it sought to identify which operations of mining are having effects on water quality and whether these make water unsafe for human consumption and whether there have been any adverse health effects associated with these activities among residents in the catchment area.
Methods and results: The study was a descriptive cross-sectional study with water quality analysis for laden chemicals upstream, midstream and downstream. Sampling was done in June 2009 in rivers and streams affected by mining activities and others not affected as well as streams used by communities located in the mining concession. Results of the study has shown that pit dewatering, mineral processing and the discharge of untreated mine water were found the mining processes that have effects on water quality. In addition, mercury, chromium, and iron levels were in excess (over 100%) when compared with WHO (1993) maximum permissible limits for drinking water. Aluminium, lead, manganese and nickel levels were also in excess with 68.5%, 78.9%, 31.5% and 47.7% respectively. Review of the Municipality’s health data has shown that apart from malaria and acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, skin diseases and gastro-enteritis, diseases which may be attributable to mine exceedencies were among the top ten diseases reported by health facilities between 2004 and 2008.
Recommendations: We recommend the continuous monitoring of water quality by the Mining Companies and the Environmental Protection Agency, possibly seasonally and the routine assessment of the health status of communities that rely on these water bodies for domestic and/or industrial activities.