Director of Water Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has called for a review of the country’s water purification system, revealing the current system fails to remove harmful toxins produced by algae in fresh water sources.
Dr Joseph Addo Ampofo said although the current water purification mechanism by the Ghana Water Company meets the WHO standards, it fails to clean hazardous planktons in Ghana’s water sources.
“If you look at the Weija water for instance, gradually the water is increasing in blue-green algae. With such waters if you want to treat and drink, you must also take into consideration removal of the algae because the algae toxins can cause kidney problems, liver problems, nervous system problems, heart problems.
Photo: The Weija dam contains high levels of algae, says Dr Ampofo
“Because we do not have that technology with our water treatment now, it means if there are a lot of algae in the water from a treatment point. You will be drinking these toxins and that is the danger we are facing now,” he said.
Dr Ampofo further revealed that the use of chlorine and alum in the current water treatment system only succeeds in destroying bacteria that may be present in the water source, but not the toxins produced by algae.
He made the comments Friday, on the sidelines of a week-long in-house review of activities of the Water Research Institute.
Among other things, Friday’s programme saw the presentation of findings on a myriad of water related issues by scientists at the Environmental Biology and Health division of the institute.
“We did work before 2010 and by then the level of algae in Ghana’s main water sources have come up to dangerous level, but now that we have a lot of waste being dumped into the water bodies, we need to find out the level now; because by now the level has exceeded the acceptable level of algae toxins in drinking water,” he said.
He attributed the increase in cancer cases among the youth to the situation.
“You may end up getting a lot of people with kidney problems in the country; a lot of people getting liver problems, nervous problems, brain disorders tumours leading to cancer and then you will not understand. It can easily come from drinking water,” he said.
Dr Joseph Ampofo
He said his institute has informed the Ghana Water Company about the need to review the current water treatment process but that advice is yet to be heeded.
He recommended the use of very fine filters to remove the harmful algae toxins by the Water Company if the means of procuring appropriate chemicals is not available.