Weija Dam spillage submerges communities

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A number of communities in the catchment area of the Weija Dam in the Ga South Municipality are gradually getting submerged, following recent spillage of the dam by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL).

Communities such as Tetegu, Oblogo, Pambros Salt, Lower McCarthy Hill, Weija, Bojo Beach and Ada Kokpe have been inundated, while others, including Glefe and Opetekwei, are also seriously affected.

The residents have refused to adhere to several warnings to evacuate the area, since they are located on a water course and in areas that serve as buffer.

During a visit to the communities on Sunday, the Daily Graphic observed that most of them had been enveloped by the spilled waters, making the places virtually unaccessible as those who cared had to walk through water, which was nearing knee level.

It was also observed that some residents had to move from one part of the area to another with the help of canoes at a cost of GH¢1 per ride.

One resident, Ms Adwoa Lawenor, said she and her family had been living there for more than 10 years, adding that the flooding was a yearly experience which they had become used to. She said since the authorities had refused to go to their aid, the residents had found their own way to manage the situation.

Most of the residents who spoke to the Daily Graphic said they had nowhere to relocate and so if the government wanted them to do so, it should provide an alternative residential area for them. It was also observed that in spite of the annual flooding of the communities as a result of the spilling of the dam, new residential facilities were springing up in the area.

Most of the housing projects that were at the foundation level were totally submerged in the flood. Safety of dam Expressing worry over the situation, the Chief Manager in charge of Production at the Weija Water Treatment Plant, Mr Christian Siawor, said there was nothing that the company could do for the residents downstream, since the safety of the dam was at stake.

The maximum water level of the dam is 48ft, but the level came up to 47.7ft, thereby threatening its safety, hence the spillage. He said the GWCL was worried because it had so far opened four out of the five spill gates of the dam, with the likelihood that the fifth gate would be opened soon, depending on the level of water in the dam.

Mr Siawor said as of 5 p.m. last Sunday the water level of the dam had dropped from 47.7ft to 45.3ft after five days of spilling. “If the level remains below 48ft by today, then the four gates that are spilling now will be opened half a foot each,” he said.

However, he noted that the dam level had the capacity to overflow its maximum capacity if it rained heavily in the Eastern Region for just two days.

The Communications Manager of the GWCL, Mr Stanley Martey, said although the company was worried about the situation, there was absolutely nothing it could do for now.

He said spilling excess water from a dam was an international practice aimed at safeguarding dams and that was why buffer zones were created. “Unfortunately, people have turned the buffer zones into communities and that is why we have this annual challenge,” he said.

According to him, if the spillage was stopped, the excess water that collected behind the dam could cause it to collapse and that would mean even more trouble for communities in the path of the water that would run downstream.

“If the dam is allowed to collapse, most parts of Accra will be without pipe-borne water until a new dam is built, and it is an expensive enterprise to put up a new one,” he said.

GWCL warning In a statement issued in Accra last Monday, the management of the Ghana Urban Water Limited (GUWL), a subsidiary of the GWCL, alerted residents, especially those living in and around the Weija Water Treatment Plant and the low-lying areas of the water way, to the intended spillage of water from the Weija Dam.

According to the statement, with the onset of the rains, there had been a steady increase in the level of water in the dam and as such it had become imperative that the spill gates were opened

Source: GraphicOnline