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Draft regulation on management of dams to be laid before Parliament

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ParliamentThe perennial flooding of communities close to dams and rivers due to spillages, resulting in the loss of lives and property and bringing untold pain to many families will soon be a thing of the past.

This is because a Draft Regulation to standardize designs and ensure safe management of dams in the country will be placed before Parliament next week by the National Dam Safety Unit (NDSU), a body under the Water Resources Commission (WRC) that carries out research, identifies and documents Dams in the country for their safe and effective management.

When the draft regulation is passed into law, Ghana will be the first Country in the Sub-Region to have a safety document to regulate the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of dams to protect lives and property.

Dr. Bob Alfa, Coordinator of the National Dam Safety Project who disclosed this at the opening of a two-day validation workshop for stakeholders on the Draft Regulations document at Swedru in the Gomoa West Municipality said the state of many dams across the country posed a threat to life and property.

“Almost 90 per cent of dams in the country are more like weapons instead of assets”, he declared, adding that the establishment of the Dam Safety Unit by the Government was very vital and will go a long way to promote safety and minimize damage to people, the environment and property.

Currently, a database of dams is being developed with about 240 dams identified by the Unit and more yet to be discovered even though many of them  are not well managed due to lack of requisite guidelines and qualified personnel to direct and man their operations.

The Volta River Authority and the Bui Power Authority Dams are well managed with  the Ghana Water Company (GWC)  and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Dams are yet to meet standards, whilst Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies  and some communities which own dams have not done any rehabilitation at all and are therefore looming disasters waiting to explode, he stated.

He said dams owned by mining companies were also being managed well but urged them to  be vigilant and ensure that toxic spillage into rivers and streams was prevented.

According to Dr. Alfa, the document therefore sought, among other things, to ensure that decommissioning of Dams was done within the stipulated standard procedure which required the breaking the Dam artificially to slowly drain the entire water and remove the structure and not to allow water to accumulate and break the dam walls to result in disasters.

He said research  results found that the catchment areas of many dams had been encroached, with settlements so close to them, exposing residents to danger in the event of a spillage.

Dr. Alfa who is also the Principal Engineer of the WRC said the Netherlands government provided an amount of one million dollars towards the Project  which sought to use a legal framework to guide its operations, build the capacity of stakeholders and develop database for easy identification and monitoring.

For his part, Mr. Ben Ampomah, Acting Executive Secretary of the WRC said the workshop was meant to finalize inputs by stakeholders before the Regulation was placed before parliament.

Soure: GNA

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