Some eminent geoscientists, at the launch of the Earth Science Week, called on the Government to ensure proper regulation of boreholes drilling to sustain the nation’s ecology and groundwater resources to avert a looming catastrophe.
With the presence of borehole drilling rigs found in a number of communities in Ghana as a result of increasing population, the geoscientists warned that unrestrained drilling could bring environmental damages like that of “Galamsey” to the threat of human existence.
“Water is the very foundation of our living; and we see a number of borehole companies and their rigs almost everywhere, but have we asked what effects these unregulated drilling activities are having on our environment?, Mr Crisler Akwei Ankrah, the General Secretary of the Ghana Institution of Geoscientists, asked at the launch held at the University of Ghana.
Citing examples from India, he explained that compromising the quality of boreholes and dams with poor and cheap rigs would lead to failure of rigs and their abandonment, and subsequent well and water contamination to the threat of the environment.
“There is some level of legislation,” Mr Ankrah said, but added; “We can do more.”
The Legislative Instrument (L.I.1827) 2006, of which implementation began in 2007, deals with Drilling License and Groundwater Development Regulations.
He, however, suggested its refinement to attracted more enforcement to prevent drilling at unsafe places, check water testing for purity and building on wetlands and water ways.
Mr Ankrah said geoscientists needed to be attached to the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to do proper and comprehensive soil and impact assessment before buildings were put up.
“We need to streamline the activities of the drilling of boreholes like it was dome with Galamsey,” Mr Ankrah said, and announced that a draft legislation on groundwater activities and the nation’s blue economy would soon be presented to Parliament.
Professor Daniel Kwadwo Asiedu, the President of the Ghana Institution of Geoscientists, called on Geoscience students, educators, researchers, industry professionals, public servants and policymakers to apply the knowledge acquired to ensure sustainable and equitable foundations for the future.
“Knowledge of the Earth’s structure, materials it is made of and the processes by which it is constantly being shaped can be used to inform national development matters like the access to clean, identifying groundwater resources and preventing contamination”
Prof. Asiedu, however, said despite the widespread use of groundwater in Ghana, the knowledge of groundwater resources and their sustainable use was inadequate.
“How can we sustainably manage groundwater resources in the semi-arid parts of Ghana where people rely on groundwater for their livelihoods? How do we avert disastrous human and ecological consequences due to over exploitation? How can vulnerable groundwater resources be protected from pollution and how can vital polluted resources be protected?”
“The answers to these questions rest with the Geoscientist who has the training to search for and prepare management options for the sustainable use of the resources to avoid over exploitation and also optimize the use of available funds.”
Prof. Asiedu called on policy makers to formulate policies, which would largely require all citizens to make use of geoscientists in their dealings with the earth and that of the environment.
Dr Yvonne Sena Akosua Loh, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geoscience, called for more Earth Science education to reduce the threats of flooding and collapse of buildings and ensure better care of the environment.
That, she said, would reduce the various forms of environmental degradation and pollution, especially in the mining sector.
Prof. Naa Bruce Banoeng-Yakubu, Professor of Geology at the Department of Earth Science, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, who chaired the launching, took the participants through some lessons in the field.
Since October 1998, the American Geosciences Institute had organised Earth Science Week, a national and international event to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the science to encourage stewardship of the Earth.
This year’s Earth Science Week, being held from October 13 – 19, is on the theme: “Geoscience Is for Everyone.”
It is placing emphasis on both the inclusive potential and the importance of the geosciences in the lives of all people.