Establishment of dam safety unit is of national importance – Water Resources Commission

The Water Resources Commission (WRC) is to establish a Dam Safety Unit that will inspect and ensure that dams and bridges are constructed in the country to meet contemporary standards.

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The establishment of the unit, according to the commission, is in line with the new Legislative Instrument – Dam Safety Legislation (LI 2236) passed by Parliament in 2016.

Dr Bob Alfa, the Head of Surface Water Resources of the WRC, said this at a workshop on the development of Buffer Zone Legislative Instrument organised by the Commission in Kumasi.

The workshop was attended by district coordinating directors, representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media.

Dr Alfa said the unit would be staffed with technical people who would also ensure that dams were designed in accordance with provisions in the LI 2236.

He said sub-standard dams and bridges often had catastrophic impact on the properties and lives of the people adding that the Commission has taken a data base of almost all the dams in the country.

Dr Alfa said the data base would enable the proposed unit to under-study and provide technical guidelines in regulating the activities of dams.

He expressed concern about the abandonment of some dams in the country as they pose a threat to lives and properties saying the Unit would also help trace the owners for necessary action to be taken.

Dr Alfa said owners who fail to register their dams a commit serious offence under the new LI and culprits would be prosecuted accordingly.

He appealed to media practitioners to get acquainted with the LI and help propagate its contents.
On the proposed Riparian Buffer Zone LI for managing freshwater bodies in the country, Mrs Bernadette Araba Adjeii, the Principal Legal Officer at the WRC, said the buffer zone policy intended to protect, regenerate and maintain vegetation in riparian buffer zones to improve water quality.

The passage of the buffer zone LI, Mrs Adjei said, sought to ensure the establishment of a network of riparian buffer zones in river basins.

She expressed discomfort about reduced vegetative cover along river bodies, coupled with increasing pollution from domestic and in some cases industrial waste which has resulted in increased sediment and nutrient loading of streams, and deteriorating in water quality.

Mrs Adjei appealed to the general public to develop the interest and support the passage of the LI for the supreme interest of the nation.