W S A ,

W S A ,
WATER SUPPLY OF ACCRA, WITH EMPHASIS
ON SACHET WATER
Felix Diawuo
May 2011
TRITA-LWR Degree Project
ISSN 1651-064X
LWR-EX-11-12
Felix Diawuo
TRITA LWR Degree Project 11:12
© Felix Diawuo 2011
Master Thesis
Department of Land and Water Resources Engineering
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
SE-100 44 STOCKHOLM, Sweden
Reference should be written as: Felix, D (2011) “Water Supply of Accra with Emphasis on
Scahet Water” TRITA-LWR Degree Project 11:12
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
S UMMARY
Drinking water supply in Ghana is currently been managed by Ghana
Water Company/Aqua Vitens Rands Limited (GWCL/AVRL) and the
Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA). The GWCL/AVRL
is tasked with managing urban water supply where as the CWSA is reponsible for water supply in the rural areas.
The GWCL/AVRL is made up of a government sector (GWCL) and a
private sector (AVRL). This company was formed to replace Ghana Water Sewage Corporation (GWSC) which was completely owned by the
government. This corporation was responsible for managing both the
rural and urban water supply. The inefficiencies in the operations of the
corporation led to the formation of the CWSA and the GWCL/AVRL.
Despite the institutional reformations over the years in the water supply
sector, drinking water supply problem still persist in the country especially in the urban centers. The problem is much pronounced in Accra, the
country’s capital which has the highest urban population. The drinking
water problem in Accra involves quality, frequency of flow, accessibility
and affordability. These have been as result of many factors which include poor institutional frammework, lack of capital invesments, poor infrastructures and higher pollution of source water.
This development has led to the residents to resort to various water coping strategies in order to meet their drinking water needs. One current
major water coping strategy which has been adopted by most residents in
the city and other parts of the country is the use of sachet water which is
commonly referred to as “pure water”. This is about 500ml of water
packaged in High Density Polyethylene bags.
The higher patronage of these water products has resulted in hundreds
of scahet water small scale companies springing up in the various parts
of the city and the country as whole. It is alleged that most of these
companies produce water under unhygyienic conditions. As such most
of these water products sold on the market have been found to be of
doubtful microbial quality.
This has attracted a lot of public concern due to the threats they pose on
the health and the socio-economic status of the consumers. One other
aspect of the product which has also caught the public attention is the
plastic waste that results after the consumption of the product. This contributes to occasional floods and poor sanitation with its attendant problems.The laboratory analysis done on some sachet water and bottled water samples confirmed that some of the brands on the market are of
duobtful microbial quality. In terms of chemical quality, the results from
the samples did not pose much health threat.
Imporvement in the water supply system by the government could be
one holistic way of finding a sustainable solution to the problem apart
from others such as tough regulations and public education.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
S UMMARY IN S WEDISH
Dricksvattenförsörjningen (drift- och underhåll) i Ghana’s urbana
områden sköts f.n. på kontraktbasis av Aqua Vitens Rands Limited
(GWCL/AVRL), som är ett samägt bolag av nederländska allmänna bolaget Vitens och sydafrikanska allmänna bolaget Rand.
Trots de institutionella reformerna under åren inom vattenförsörjningssektorn är dricksvattenförsörjning i de urbana områdena fortfarande ett
stort problem, särskilt i huvudstaden Accra. Problem i Accra omfattar
bl.a. kvalitet, frekvens av flöde, tillgänglighet och rimliga priser.
Otillräckliga eller dåligt underhållna ledningsnät, brist på kapital för investeringar mm har lett till hög föroreningsrisk från källa till konsument.
Denna utveckling har lett till de boende har utvecklat olika copingstrategier för att möta sitt behov dricksvatten. Ett copingstrategi som under
senare år används av allt fler invånare i staden och andra delar av landet
är att dricka s.k. ”rent” plastförpackat vatten s.k. ”sachet water”. Detta
handlar om 500ml vatten som förpackats i High Density Polyeten påsar.
Hundratals små sachet-företag har växt upp i olika delar av staden och
övriga landet som helhet. Det hävdas att de flesta av dessa företag producerar vatten under ohygieniska
villkor. Det mesta av detta
plastförpackade vatten som säljs på gator och torg har visat sig vara av
tveksam mikrobiell kvalitet. Ett svårhanterligt plastavfall uppkommer när
påsarna slängs på marken.
Detta examensarbete är en pilotstudie över den växande och problematiska användningen av plastförpackat dricksvatten i påse. Sex stycken olika varumärken av plastförpackat vatten har analyserats på biologiska och
kemiska parametrar. Studien diskuterar de konsekvenser som den ökande
användningen av plastförpackat vatten har på hälsa, miljö och socioekonomi.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Like any other research work, the completion of this thesis work has not
been without challenges. However, the continual assistance from my supervisor, Jan-Erik Gustafsson, an associate professor at the Land and
Water Resources Engineering Department, KTH contributed immensely
to the success of this project. I wish to take this opportunity to express
my heartfelt gratitude to him for all his assistance in all forms.
I also appreciate the efforts of Monica Löwén, K. Gunnar Jacks and Bertil Nilsson for their assistance in carrying out the laboratory analysis of
the samples for their microbial, chemical and physical quality.
Special thanks also goes to my friend Evans Osei Acheampong for making some time out of busy schedule to administer my questionnaires in
Ghana on my behalf. Many thanks also go to Isaac Owusu-Agyaman and
Noah Yakah for their roles in editing the final thesis report.
I also own a lot of thanks to my parents Doris Antepim and Felix
Amankona Diawuo for all the financial supports and advice they have
invested in me so far up to this level of my academic career. They have
been very wonderful parents to me.
Finally I also thank everybody who contributed both directly and indirectly to the success of this report and my study at Royal Institute of
Technology here in KTH.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
T ABLE OF CONTENTS
Summary ..................................................................................................................................... iii Summary in Swedish ....................................................................................................................v Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................... vii Table of contents ........................................................................................................................ ix Abstract ........................................................................................................................................ 1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 1 The Scope of the Problem...................................................................................................... 2 Project System Boundary ....................................................................................................... 4 Objectives................................................................................................................................ 4 Research Methodology .......................................................................................................... 5 Limitations .............................................................................................................................. 5 The Study Area: Accra in Perspective ................................................................................... 5 The Water Management System in Ghana ................................................................................ 6 Institutional and Sector Reforms .......................................................................................... 7 Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation .............................................................................. 7 Decentralization of GWSC and Private Sector Participation .............................................. 8 Private sector participation in urban and rural water supply .............................................. 9 Privatization of Urban water Supply ..................................................................................... 9 Water Sector Institutions ..................................................................................................... 10 National Water Resources ................................................................................................... 11 Microbial Drinking Water Quality Guidelines and Standards ............................................... 12 Microbial Water Contamination .......................................................................................... 13 Source and Occurrence of Microbial Contamination ........................................................ 13 Approach to Microbial Water Quality Measurement......................................................... 14 Microbial Water Quality Standards and Guidelines .......................................................... 14 Improving Microbial Quality ............................................................................................... 14 Measuring Drinking Water Microbial Quality by Critical Parameters............................. 15 Turbidity.......................................................................................................................................... 15 Disinfectant/ Residual Chlorine ....................................................................................................... 15 pH ................................................................................................................................................... 16 Chemical Drinking Water Quality and Guidelines ................................................................. 16 Chemicals from Source Water ............................................................................................. 17 Chemicals from Chlorination and Ozonation .................................................................... 18 Chemicals from Treatment Systems ................................................................................... 18 Chemicals from Distribution Systems ................................................................................ 19 Chemicals from Other Stages .............................................................................................. 19 Chemical Quality Standards and Guidelines and Health Concerns ................................. 20 Drinking Water Production in Accra ....................................................................................... 20 Water Treatment at the Kpong Water Works ..................................................................... 21 The Intake Stage .............................................................................................................................. 21 The Mixing Stage ............................................................................................................................. 21 Clariflocculation .............................................................................................................................. 21 Filtration.......................................................................................................................................... 22 Backwashing .................................................................................................................................... 22 The Post-Chlorination Stage ............................................................................................................ 22 The Monitoring Stage ...................................................................................................................... 22 ix
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The High Lift Station....................................................................................................................... 22 Kpong Waterworks Drinking water Treatment Chemicals ............................................... 22 Brief Water Treatment Description at the Weija Water Works ......................................... 23 The Water Supply Situation in Ghana, the Case of Accra ...................................................... 23 Accessibility .......................................................................................................................... 23 Demand and Supply ............................................................................................................. 24 Reliability .............................................................................................................................. 24 Quality ................................................................................................................................... 24 Affordability .......................................................................................................................... 26 Water Tariff Situation in Ghana ....................................................................................................... 26 History of Water Tariff- Pricing ....................................................................................................... 26 Water Cost Disparities in Accra ....................................................................................................... 27 The Switch to Sachet Water ...................................................................................................... 27 Sachet Water and Regulation in Ghana .............................................................................. 29 Certification by the Ghana Standard Board........................................................................ 29 Certification by the Ghana Food and Drugs Boards ......................................................... 30 Sachet Water Production and Packaging ........................................................................... 30 Microbial, Chemical and Physical Quality of Sachet Water sold in Ghana ..................... 31 Laboratory Analysis of Samples from Ghana .......................................................................... 33 Methodology and Description of Results ........................................................................... 33 Microbial Quality Test ......................................................................................................... 33 Discussion of Results: Microbial Quality Test................................................................... 34 Number of Microorganisms ............................................................................................................. 34 Slow Growing Bacteria .................................................................................................................... 34 Coliform Bacteria and E. coli ........................................................................................................... 35 Inferences from the Microbial Test..................................................................................... 36 Physical Quality Tests.......................................................................................................... 37 Sample Calculations : Alkalinity-Fresh Cool ..................................................................................... 37 Discussion of Physical Quality Test Results ...................................................................... 38 pH ................................................................................................................................................... 38 Alkalinity ......................................................................................................................................... 39 Total Hardness ................................................................................................................................ 40 Conductivity .................................................................................................................................... 40 Chemical Quality Test: Anions, Cations and Heavy Metals .................................................. 41 The Chemical Test ............................................................................................................... 41 Description of Results and Discussion ............................................................................... 42 Fluoride ........................................................................................................................................... 42 Chloride........................................................................................................................................... 43 Sulphates ......................................................................................................................................... 43 Nitrates/Nitrites-Nitrogen ............................................................................................................... 44 Phosphates ...................................................................................................................................... 46 Calcium and Magnesium .................................................................................................................. 47 Sodium and Potassium..................................................................................................................... 49 Heavy Metals ........................................................................................................................ 50 Discussion of Results for Heavy Metals ........................................................................................... 52 Health, Socio-economic and Environmental Implications of Sachet Water......................... 53 Health Implications ............................................................................................................. 54 Socio-Economic Implications ............................................................................................. 54 Conclusions and Recommendations ........................................................................................ 56 x
Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Conclusions........................................................................................................................... 56 Recommendations................................................................................................................ 57 References .................................................................................................................................. 58 Other References ....................................................................................................................... 59 Appendix .................................................................................................................................... 66 xi
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
A BSTRACT
This project seeks to assess the impact of the sachet water industry on the health,
socio-economic and the environmental situation of the inhabitants of Accra, the
capital city of Ghana.
In addressing the situation, the driving forces which have fuelled the shift of consumer taste from the normal tap water and the traditional hand-tied-ice water products to
the plastic sachet water (commonly known in as “Pure Water”) are identified. Lack of
access to continuous flow of improved water and the perceived poor quality of the
urban water supply system as results of poor management structure are identified as
some of the factors for the shift in consumers’ taste for plastic sachet and bottled
drinking water.
The quality of the plastic sachet is also assessed through the review of previous
research results. These are confirmed by laboratory analysis of about six brands of
plastic sachet water and two brands bottled drinking water. The laboratory analysis
carried out assessed the microbial, physical and chemical quality of the various
samples. To assess the health impacts of the products, the results from the analysis are
compared with WHO guideline values and other international guideline values.
Questionnaires are also administered to ascertain the socio-economic impacts of the
products on the life of the young men and women as well sachet water manufacturers.
From this, some measures are suggested as to how to mitigate the activities of the
sachet water business to reduce its negative effects on the health, the environment and
the socio-economic status of the inhabitants of the city.
Key words: Urban water supply; Sachet drinking water; Micrbial quality;
Chemical quality; Health impacts; Environmental and socio-economic impacts
I NTRODUCTION
Water for drinking may perhaps be the most important sensitive aspect
of various uses of water to human and animal health since it is usually
taken directly into the human system and at temperatures which have a
higher potential of sustaining harmful microbes and also other toxic
substances.
According to EAWAG (2010), statistics show that, as of 2008, about 884
million people lacked access to drinking water from improved sources.
The situation becomes more disturbing when drinking water from the
so-called improved sources occasionally becomes unsafe for drinking as
result of lack of smooth operation and maintenance at the source as well
as the risk of secondary contamination during distribution collection and
storage. This could increase the risk of microbial contamination in
drinking water even from improved sources.
EAWAG (2010) also cited that, microbial contamination is one of the
major causes of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid
fever, hepatitis A and amoebic and bacillary dysentery. Annually, 4 billion cases of diarrhea results in about 1.8 million deaths mostly among
children below the age of five. Tens of millions are also affected by
chemical contamination resulting from high levels of arsenic and fluorine
in drinking water.
The above factors among several others led to the inclusion of the water
and sanitation issue as outlined in MDG’s goals which is aimed at
addressing the global development challenges. Listed below are the
targets set in the Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals:
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• “To halve, 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable
access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation’’
• “By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives
of at least 100million slum- dwellers” (WHO, 2004).
In line with the above Millennium Development Goals, the introduction
of sachet water (0.5 litres of water packed in a transparent plastic bag
which is popularly referred to as Pure Water) in Ghana has not been a
misplaced agenda. This is because, the idea was supposed to serve as an
instant, hygienic and affordable source of water to the Ghanaian public
which could facilitate the country’s effort of achieving the Millennium
Development Goal 7.
According to the WSMP summary report, though over 90 percent of the
urban population has access to improved drinking an increasing number
of the population continue to rely on bottled and sachet drinking as their
drinking water source (WSMP Ghana, 2009).
The use of bottled and sachet water in Ghana has been on the increase
since 1998. According to the figures released by Ghana Water and
Sanitation Monitoring Platform (GWSMP), a research conducted in 2008
showed that about 6% of the country’s population used bottled/sachet
water for drinking purposes although they had access to other improved
sources.
The consumption of the packaged water products was more prevalent in
the urban centres where about 12% used bottled and sachet water for
drinking purposes although they could have drank form other improved
sources. It was 1.1 percent for the rural population. As shown by the
Fig.1 the use of bottled and sachet water has increased from 0% to 6.7%
within a ten year period (WSMP Ghana, 2009). This is due to the taste
for such products as results of factors such as affordability, quality and
accessibility.
The increasing rate of sachet water patronage in Ghana has come with
its attendant problems relating to the environment, the society, health
and the economy. These problems accompanied with the manufacture
and usage of the product in Ghana has made it an unsustainable venture
when all its synergic present and future effects are taken into accounts.
In order for Ghana to meet the above MDGs goals, it is important, that
sachet water which is eventually becoming the most popular source of
drinking water for most Ghanaian population is critically considered
from a sustainable point of view by considering a sustainable one.
In order for Ghana to meet the above MDGs goals, it is important, that
sachet water which is eventually becoming the most popular source of
drinking water for most Ghanaian population is critically considered
from a sustainable point of view by considering the health (the water
quality), environmental (plastic waste) and socio-economic impacts so as
to come out with a more reliable solution which would make the venture
a sustainable one.
The Scope of the Problem
Several factors have caused the increasing demand for sachet water in
most urban areas in Ghana as well as in the various urban centers in other developing countries. The increasing urbanization rate in most urban
centers is one basic factor. According to The Ghana Health Service
(2010), the current city’s population growth rate stands at about 4.4%.
This has resulted in a corresponding higher demand on the urban water
supply system as there is virtually no major expansion and improvement
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Fig.1. Increasing trend of sachet and bottled water consumption in
Ghana.
in the water supply system to meet the needs of the increasing
population.This has created the need to ration the drinking water supply
to most areas in order to meet the needs of all the areas who needs water
supply (Lamptey, 2010).
The Fig. 2 shows the effect of the increase in Accra’s population on the
water demand in the city over the years.
The crucial problem is the inefficiencies inherent in the activities of the
water management institutions in the country especially in the urban
centers. The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) which manages
the water supply system in the city is plagued with a lot of problems
ranging from legal, institutional framework, inadequate resources and the
lack of stakeholders’ interest. These have resulted in inefficient and poor
quality of service (Fuest et al, 2007).
The inability of the urban water system to meet the higher public water
demands with respect to quantity, quality, accessibility and affordability
has led to the introduction of many water coping strategies of which
plastic bagged sachet water popularly known as “pure water” in Ghana is
one (Nyarko et al, 2008). The introduction of pure water in Ghana and
many other developing countries aims to provide quality, affordable
and accessible drinking water for the populace to make up for some of
the lapses in the water supply systems especially in the urban centers.
However, with about hundreds of sachet water producing companies
springing up in the city, the activities of the pure water industries have
become difficult to regulate and the quality of the “pure water” they
produce are also doubtful according to previous research conducted to
ascertain the microbial quality of the produced sachet water sold on the
Ghanaian market.
It is claimed that, the increase in the consumption of plastic sachet water
in the city exposes consumers to the risks associated with the use of the
product since most of them are perceived to be of doubtful quality. The
risks associated with the use of sachet water in Ghana concerns health,
socio-economic and environmental factors.
Research conducted in different urban centers in Ghana such as Cape
Coast, Kumasi and Tamale have shown the existence of the presence of
various forms of harmful bacteria in the samples of sachet water
analyzed. For instance studies done by Okioga (2005) showed that about
93% of the hand tied sachet water and 20% of the factory made plastic
sachet water had turbidity greater than 5 NTU which is the standard set
by GSB (1998). Results from the microbial tests also indicated the
presence of E. coli or total coliform which poses some health risks.
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Fig. 2 Demand in Water Supply against Population estimates in
Accra. Source: Awua et al, 2007.
Plastic sachet water products in Ghana do not only pose health risks, but
also contribute significantly to the solid waste menace bedeviling the city
today. According to The Science in Africa (2004) it is estimated that sachet water plastic waste makes up of about 85% of the 270 tonnes per
day of plastic waste generated in Accra as of 2004.
Project System Boundary
This is a pilot project based on collecting six sachet water samples and
two bottled water samples randomly from the market in the central business area of Accra (popularly referred to as the Circle). The project places much emphasis on the factory made plastic sachet water products
commonly known in Ghana as ‘pure water’. The bottled water type will
not be much emphasized since it has not been so problematic as a result
of smaller consumer size. Additionally, traditional “scavengers” also
plays an important role in recycling the empty bottle after consumption,
hence its lesser impact on the environment.
The project will also give less attention to the traditional hand-tied iced
water since it is gradually being faded out from the market. This is
because the factory made pure water products have dominated the
packaged drinking water market. However, analysis of the three forms of
packaged drinking water namely hand-tied ice water, pure water and
bottled water will be accordingly incorporated into the study when
necessary.
Objectives
The aim of this pilot project is to assess the possible impacts of the
plastic sachet water on health, the environment and the socio-economic
status of the inhabitants of the Accra metropolis, and suggesting measures to avert the situation.
The project has the following specific objectives:
• To review the water supply management system in Ghana
• To assess the microbiological quality of plastic sachet water
• To assess the presence of basic cations and trace metals in sachet
water
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
• To investigate the health implications associated with sachet water
• To assess the environmental and socio-economic impact of the
product on the Ghanaian market
• To suggest measures and strategies to mitigate the various impacts
associated with sachet water.
Research Methodology
The project is executed as a pilot one to confirm the claims that some
pure water sold in Ghana are of doubtful microbial and chemical quality
and hence pose health risk. Six types of pure water brands and two bottled water brands were randomly bought from the central business area
of Accra. The project was accomplished in three broad phases: the literature review phase, the field work phase and the laboratory tests phase.
A literature review was first conducted which provided the basis for
comparison of Accra’s situation to other research results and international standards. The field work involved the administration of questionnaires to the pure water sellers to ascertain the socio-economic impacts
of the products on the sellers and manufacturers. The microbial and
chemical quality standards of the pure water and the bottled water were
also determined in separate laboratories and the results compared with
international standards found from literature. This is then used to
confirm the claims by the section of consumers and researchers about
the microbial and chemical quality of the products.
Limitations
• Lack of large sample space could affect the analysis of the results
and in establishing important scientific theories.
• Inability to compare the microbial, chemical and physical quality
of the sachets and bottled water samples with tap water from
GWCL. This could not allow for comparison of results.
• There could be an effect on the quality of the samples as results of
the length of time the products spent during their transportation
and analysis in the laboratories.
• Inability of the author to be physically present in Ghana due to
lack of funds was one of the major limitations as far as this work
is concerned.
The Study Area: Accra in Perspective
Accra, in the Greater Accra region became the capital city of Ghana in
1877 after it was moved from then Cape Coast to the present day Accra.
The Greater Accra Region is the most modernized and urbanized region
among the 10 regions in the country. On the geograhic scale, Accra is
located on the east coast of Ghana bounded on the north by latitude
541.4N, on the south by Gulf of Guinea, on the east by longitude
00 01E and on the west by longitude 0021.5 (Agyei-Mensah et al, 2007).
Fig. 3 shows the relative location of Accra with respect to Ghana and
Africa as whole. Table 1 in the appendix also gives a summary of
Ghana’s country profile.
The city which is one of the five districts that makes up the Greater
Accra Region has a total land area of about 17,362 ha. Located in the dry
equitorial climate region, Accra receives an average rainfall of about
810mm per annum. Accra is generally hot and humid with a mean
average temperature which varies from 24oC in August and 27 oC in
March (Awua et al, 2007).
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Since 1957, when the country gained independence from the British,
there has been a continuous increase in the country’s population. The
population of Accra is currently more than 3 million as against 1960
when the city’s population was only half a million (Mills-Tettey, 2010).
In the year 2000, the City’s population was estimated to be about 1.7 million. The 1.7 million population represents 70% of the total Greater
Accra regional population, 30% of the total urban population in Ghana
and 10% of the national total population (Agyei-Mensah et al, 2007).
Apart from the natural increase, rural-urban migration has been one of
the main drivers for the continuous exponential increase in the city’s
population (Mills-Tettey, 2010).
The city is made up of both highly wealthy and poor residents as results
of the socio-economic and geopolitical arrangements in the city for the
last 20 years (Agyei-Mensah et al, 2007). It can be assumed that most of
the poor residents in the Accra city are the rural migrants who troops into the City for from the country’s three northern regions and other impoverished regions of the south such the Volta and Central region
(Agyei-Mensah et al, 2007). These migrants who come to the city for
non-existing formal jobs end up settling in slum areas in the city with
unplanned water and sanitation amenities and among others.
Left with no options, they engage in informal sector activities such as
street traders, hawkers and porters (popularly known as Kayayee)
(Mills-Tettey, 2010).
These developments confirm the assertion that urbanization and the
natural increase in most urban centers have been the main drivers for
problems such as unemployment, underemployment, burgeoning informal sector, over stretched infrastructure and utility service delivery
capacity, overcrowding, environmental deterioration and housing shortage (Maxwell et al, 2000).
This picture could be likened to the current state of affairs in the Accra
metropolis which has about 5% poverty index. This figure represents
that about 90,000 of the inhabitants in the city earn less than 1UDS per
day (Mensah Abraham, 2007). The insufficient housing, water, sanitation
and public services which does not meet the demands of the residents
consequently puts the health and the total well being of the residents at
risk. (Taylor et al, 2002). This situation is been exemplified by the insufficient water supply and sanitation delivery services in the capital city
which has been a major source of some communicable diseases, flooding
and also contributes to the poor aaesthetic view in the city. Fig. 3 is a
map of Ghana showing the location of Accra.
T HE W ATER M ANAGEMENT S YSTEM IN G HANA
The water supply situation in Ghana like many other developing countries has a low coverage. The problem is heavily felt in the urban and
pre-urban centres where the urbanization rate has out-paced the water
supply facility expansion rate.
In Ghana, urban water supply is currently being managed by a Government- Private Sector management called Ghana Water Company
Limited-Aqua Vitens and Rands Limited (GWCL-AVRL). At the rural
level, it is been managed by the Community Water and Sanitation
Agency. Over the years, there have been a lot of reformations in the sector which is geared towards finding a sustainable way of providing water
to the consumers.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Fig. 3. Map of Ghana Showing Accra.
Source: http://www.mapsofworld.com/ghana/ghana-political-map.html
Institutional and Sector Reforms
Bohman (2007) acknowledged that, the search for a sustainable improved water supply to the increasing Ghanaian population has led to
the periodical reforms in the water and sanitation sector even before and
after independence in 1957.
The reformations have centered on issues such as government and
private sector participations, water governance models, and centralization and decentralization. The various sections below take a look at the
historical background of the water management system in Ghana with
most emphasis on the Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation (GWSC).
The issues about privatization and decentralization in the sector shall
also be reviewed.
Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation
Before and two years after Ghana’s independence in 1957, there was no
any institutional body in place to oversee water and sanitation issues in
the country. The need for such a body became necessary during a major
drought that struck the country in 1959. In the process of finding future
solutions to such occurrences, the Government of Ghana and the World
Health Organization signed an agreement for studies to be conducted on
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the technical engineering, organization of national water and sewerage
authority and the means of financing the sector (Bohman, 2010).
At the end of the studies, a couple of loopholes were identified and recommendations were made for future implementation. The recommendation made included:
- The training and provisioning of adequate staff to man existing facilities
- expansion of the existing water division sector
- The need for the establishment of structures to take responsibilities
of the construction and maintenance of WSS facilities in various
part of the country.
- The need to implement a cost recovery system
- The need to charge lower water prices or bills
- The need for a centralized national authority to oversee the WSS
issues in the country instead of a decentralized one. (Hence rural
and urban water and sanitation issues were placed under the
same authority)
These developments outlined above led to the creation of the Ghana
Water and Sewerage Corporation (GWSC) in 1965. The GWSC was
therefore tasked with the responsibilities for water supply and sewerage
in both the rural and urban areas, research into water and sewerage issues, construction and operations of water and sewerage works and setting of water tariffs etc. This meant that all the various aspects in water
management in different parts of the country were been managed by this
single authority led by six board members appointed by the President
(Bohman, 2010).
Decentralization of GWSC and Private Sector Participation
During the 1970s and the 80s, the Government began to invest in the
water supply and sanitation (WSS) services which were then centralized
under GWSC. These efforts were severely plagued by a number of problems as results of increasing population growth and urbanization. These
placed a lot of pressure on the existing WSS services and infrastructures.
The Government therefore became incapable in delivering efficient
service to customers neither was it able to expand the existing facilities to
cover the increasing population and the new pre-urban centers (Bohman,
2007).
The Corporation also became more understaffed. By 1994, the total
workforce of the Corporation across the country was about 3,500. Lack
of high skilled professionals as well as an inflexible, change resistance
management system became a major setback in the operations of the
corporation, especially outside the metropolitan areas (World Bank Staff
Appraisal Report, 1994 p. 15). Major attention of the staff at the national
headquarters was virtually devoted to managing water and sewerage issues in the urban centres to the neglect of the rural population. Only
about two to three staffs at the headquarters sought to the affairs in the
rural areas (Water and Sanitation Programme, 2002).
Audits results of the finances of the GWSC had shown re-occurring
losses for most of the years. For instance, between 1988 and 1990, net
losses of between 239 million to 5.9 billion old Ghana Cedis were incurred each year (World Bank Staff Appraisal Report, 1994). There was
also a major problem in the implementation of policies and regulations.
For instance, although the full cost recovery system had been accepted as
the official pricing policy, it was never implemented (Bohman 2007).
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
The above problems and among others rendered GWSC incapable for
meeting the water and sanitation needs of the country’s surging population. The need for a decentralized system and private sector participation
with respect to water and sanitation management as well as rural and urban water supply therefore became an option to consider for managing
water and sanitation issues efficiently both at the urban and rural levels.
Private sector participation in urban and rural water supply
The discussions above on the centralization and the decentralization of
water and sanitation policies and structures confirm the argument that,
the awful performance of the water and sanitation sector has been as
results of poor management of the water supply issues on the part of the
government or the public sector.
Nevertheless, the activities of the public or government sector in most
developing countries have been characterized by lower investments and
lack of effective pricing mechanism for the cost recovery of the services
provided. The main rational behind the privatization of the sector has
therefore been to gain access to increased capital, new technologies and
expertise, and increased resource recovery to improve operations and
generate revenue (Osumanu, 2007).
Against this background, many developing countries have resorted to
policies which are geared towards private sector participation in water
and sanitation issues. Nevertheless, the private sector participation of
water and sanitation issues in the developing countries has not produced
the anticipated results and there has been mixed feelings since it worked
well for countries like Cote d’ Ivoire, Guinea and Senegal but failed for
Gambia, Uganda, Kenya etc. (Osumanu, 2007).
Privatization of Urban water Supply
One other major policy and structural reforms with the aim of enhancing
the private sector participation in the water supply sector was the transformation of the GSWC into a limited liability company; the GWCL
(Osumanu, 2007).
In 1999, the GWCL was created to replace the centralized public GWSC,
which was comparatively resistant to policy and structural reforms in
terms of financial and operational viability. The GWCL, which is now a
limited liability company, is currently in-charge of water supply for towns
with populations which exceeds twenty thousand. (Fuest et al, 2005).
In order to make the private sector provision of utilities more accountable to the consumers, an independent body, PURC (Public Utilities
Regulatory Commission) was formed in 1998 to regulate the activities of
the utility service providers in Ghana, mainly the GWCL and the ECG
(Electricity Company of Ghana). The issues about pricing and consumer
satisfaction of the services provided by the utility companies were taken
care of by the commission (Public Utilities Regulatory Commission
2005).
Further on, in 2001, the Government of Ghana (GoG) initiated a bidding process to lease the urban water system on contract for 15 years.
The rationale for this was to draw capital from the lessee for investment,
improved management skills and the introduction of a new corporate
culture in the sector. This initiative by the governments was greeted with
strong public opposition which was led by a Ghanaian NGO called National Coalition against Privatization of water (N-CAP). This was due to
reasons such as water commercialization, lack of accountability to the
customers due to the distant nature of multinational private companies
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and the donor driven nature of the Private Sector Participation (PSP)
programme (Bohman, 2007)
So during the beginning of 2003, instead of the proposed complete take
over by lease companies, the PSP programme was restructured into a
short term management contract which received a relatively lesser opposition from the public. In line with this new proposal, the GoG in 2005,
entered into a joint contract with two international public utility companies: Vitens International bv of the Netherlands and Water Services Pty
of South Africa. These two companies merged into a joint company,
Aqua Vitens Rands Limited (AVRL).
The AVRL was tasked with the responsibilities to operate and maintain
the Ghana’s urban water system for a period of 5 years. Meanwhile, the
GWCL, which was the former operator, still remains as the asset holder
and also responsible for investments, development and expansion of the
urban water systems. The agreement between the AVRL and the GoG
marked the end of a ten years discussions and political conflicts between
the public, NGOs and other activist groups (Bohman, 2007).
Currently, thus five years down the line after the takeover by the AVRL,
the problems of access, reliability and quality, which are very important
water system indicators, still persists in the urban water supply. Consumers and NGOs have been dissatisfied with the operations of the AVRL.
It is perceived that the urban water system problems have rather worsened since the takeover. Though there have been a correspondingly
67% increase in water tariffs, this has not translated service delivery and
this has been a great worry to the consumers. Currently, there is still a
discussion for further increase in water tariffs which has been greeted
with a great displeasure from the general public (Ghanaweb, 2010).
Just recently, N-CAP and the sections of the general public has called for
the abrogation of the contract and have criticized the government for
choosing the management approach instead of the investment approach
which still remained the sole responsibility of the GWCL which lacks the
resources for investments into the sector (Ghanaweb, 2010).
It could be said that, though the private sector participation in the water
supply has been more beneficial to the rural water supply, it is still not
certain whether it could have positive impact on the urban situation.
This is because the need for safe drinking water has continued to be a
problem for most of the urban dwellers in Accra up to date.
Water Sector Institutions
In Ghana, as results of the importance the Government attaches to water issues, the Government has created a lot of institutions to manage the
commodity. The most prevalent among them are the Ministry of Water
Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH). It is the main Government
institution responsible for overall water resources management and
drinking water supplies in the country. Sector related water issues such as
irrigation, fisheries, hydro-power and water transport are handled by the
ministries in charge such as Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry
of Fisheries, Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Harbours and Railways
respectively (Government of Ghana Ministry of Water Resources, Works
and Housing, 2007).
The MWRWH is made up of two main directorates namely Water and
Housing. It also made up of other auxiliary divisions. The MWRWH executes its policies through its sector agencies: Water Resource
Commission (WRC), Ghana Water Company Ltd. (GWCL) and
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Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) (Ministry of Water
Resources, Works and Housing, 2009).
Table 2 in appendix gives the summary of the various institutions and
their involvement in the water management issues in the country either
directly or indirectly.
National Water Resources
Surface and groundwater sources are the two main natural water resources found in the country. The surface water resources are made
from the three river systems that drain the country namely Volta, South
Western and Coastal river systems (Government of Ghana Ministry of
Water Resources, Works and Housing, 2007).
The Volta makes about 70% of the country’s total land area followed by
South Western and Coastal river systems which are made up of about
22% and 8% of the county’s total land area. Ghana also has one popular
natural freshwater lake called Lake Bosumtwi. This is a meteorite Crater
Lake located in the forest zone. It has a surface area of about 50km2 and
a depth of 78m (Government of Ghana Ministry of Water Resources,
Works and Housing, 2007).
The groundwater resources are described by the three main geological
formations found in the country. These are:
• Basement complex comprising crystalline igneous and metamorphic rocks
• The consolidated sedimentary formations underlying the Volta
basin (including the limestone horizon) and
• Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks.
These formations represent 54%, 45% and 1% of the country respectively with varying aquifer depths. The aquifer depths of the basement
complex and the Volta basin usually range from 10 to 60m with yields
which rarely exceeds 6m3/h. That of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic are
normally between 6 and 120m deep with average yields of about
184m3/h particularly in the limestone aquifer. Groundwater occurrences
in the limestone formations are much deeper and ranges from about
120m to 300m with an average yield of about 180m3/h. (Government of
Ghana Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, 2007 ).
The quality and reliability characteristics of groundwater over surface
water make it the first option to consider for community water supplies
whenever it is available. It does not generally require treatment and may
be available throughout the whole year even during the dry seasons
(Government of Ghana Ministry of Water Resources, Works and
Housing, 2007).
However, the accessibility and use of groundwater is faced with a couple
of challenges which ranges from contamination by leachable pollutants
especially in locations underlain with crystalline basement rocks with
fractures and fissure and also potential for contamination from point
sources such as refuse dumps, latrines, etc. Groundwater from aquifer in
the costal zones may be saline in nature making it undesirable for a
number of consumptive purposes. Regions such as Northern, Upper
East and West and some parts of Brong Ahafo have lower borehole
yields and there are some occurrences of dry boreholes (Government of
Ghana Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, 2007).
However, the relatively easy accessibility of surface water over groundwater has made it as the main source for water supply in Ghana especially in the urban centers. For instance in 2000, surface water contributed
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about 95% of the total withdrawal for urban water supply, while the
remaining 5% were supplements from groundwater systems (Encyclopedia of Earth, 2008).
Though there are abundant natural water resources in Ghana which can
meet the national water demand, there are still some sections of the
Ghanaian population both in the urban and the rural areas without
access to continuous, quality water supply. This could be as results of
poor institutional management.
Ghana’s drinking water qualities are guided by the WHO drinking water
guidelines and standards. The WHO has standards and guidelines
outlined for drinking water out of which national ones are derived to suit
the country’s specific situation.
M IC ROB IAL D RINKING W ATER Q UALITY G UIDELINES AND
S TANDARDS
Drinking water quality guideline value gives the quantitative limit of a
constituent or a contaminant above which it may be harmful to the
consumer over a lifetime of consumption. Drinking water should not
only be suitable for drinking but also for all usual domestic purposes
(WHO, 2008).
According to the WHO, drinking water has been the main source of
many water borne related diseases which constitute one of the major
burdens on human health. As such, improvement in the quality of
drinking water results in a corresponding improvement in health. (WHO,
2008) This assertion calls for stringent efforts by various countries to
provide safe drinking water for their citizens considering the potential
synergic effects of health on national economies. The WHO guidelines
define safe drinking as water that does not:
“represent any significant risk to health over a lifetime of consumption,
including different sensitivities that may occur between life stages”.
In Ghana, it is estimated that about 84,000 die of water borne or cholera
related diseases which might be contracted by using unwholesome water
either for drinking purposes, food preparation, personal hygiene, etc.
(Germ Warfare-Ghana, 2004).
The WHO guidelines are set to preliminary provide basis for good water
quality standards good for human health. The Guidelines serves as a
scientific point of departure for developing a customized national
drinking water regulations and standards suitable for the national
situation.
Specifically, The Guidelines are necessary to:
- support the development and implementation of risk management
strategies through the hazardous water constituents
- provides reasonable minimum requirements of safe practices for
consumers’ health protection
- provide basis for deriving numerical guideline values for water
quality indicators (WHO, 2008).
The WHO has guideline values set for the microbial, chemical and
acceptability aspects of drinking water. According to the WHO report on
Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, microbial contamination poses
the greatest threat to human health. Contaminations from Chemical can
also result in acute appreciable health problems.
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Other possible source of contamination could be the presence of
radiological constituents although their health implication on drinking
water is very small under normal circumstances. The WHO has no
formal guideline values set for this aspect (WHO, 2008).The sections below presents a detailed overview of the WHO guidelines values and
Standards for microbial, chemical, radiological and acceptability aspects
of drinking water compared to the Standards in Ghana.
Microbial Water Contamination
Microbial contamination of drinking water is usually caused by the
consumption of drinking water contaminated with human and animal
excreta (WHO, 2008). However, there are other possible sources and
exposure roots which may contribute to significant microbial
contamination. For instance, some organisms such as Legionella may
grow the pipe distribution system while others (guinea worm Dracunculus medinensis) may be present in the source water (WHO, 2008).
Studies conducted by Addico et al (2006) on the Weija and Kpong dams
which supplies source water for treatment by GWCL/AVRL showed the
presence of cyanobcateria in these two dams. It was confirmed in the research results that portions of the cyanobacteria cells still remained even
in the treated water headed for consumption. The results of the studies
showed that the water headed for consumption contained about 70-90%
of toxic cyanobacteria species (Anabaena flos-aquae, Cylindrospermopsis
raciborskii, Microcystis aeruginosa and Planktothrix agardhii.).
These contaminants give rise to infectious disease causing organisms
such as pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites (protozoa and
helminths) whose presence in water results in higher risk to water borne
diseases. Some of these water borne disease causing organisms can
cause severe and life threatening diseases such as typhoid, Cholera,
infectious hepatitis, and disease caused by Shigella spp. and E. coli O157.
Less severe diseases such as self-limiting diarrhea disease may be caused
other organisms such as Norovirus, Cryptosporidium (WHO, 2008).
Table 3 in the appendix gives the summary of a number of these organisms as identified by WHO whose presence in drinking could be detrimental to the health status of consumers.
Source and Occurrence of Microbial Contamination
The occurrence of pathogens in drinking water could be linked to their
source water supply and inefficient treatment process. Pathogens may
be released to drinking water sources such as surface and ground water
sources based on a number of factors. Some of these factors includes:
the physical and chemical characteristics of the source water catchment
area, the magnitude and variety of anthropogenic activities and animal
sources (WHO, 2008).
Point sources such as municipal sewerage, urban storm water overflows
as well as non-point sources which include agricultural and on-site septic
systems and latrines run-offs all serves as a potential source of to surface
drinking water sources. Direct intrusion of live stocks and wild life may
also release pathogens to such surface water bodies (WHO, 2008). Raw
water from ground water sources are less susceptible to microbial
contamination as results of the screening/barrier effects provided by the
overlying soil and its unsaturated zone. However there is a possibility for
more potential frequent microbial contamination in situations where
these soil barriers are breached. Breaching may occur through
contaminated or abandoned wells and underground pollution sources
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such as latrines and sewer lines are possible source of microbial
contamination to underground water.
Studies have confirmed that, there has been presence of pathogens and
indicator organisms in underground waters even in situations where the
overlying soil barriers have not been breached as discussed above. This
happens as results of intense surface contamination activities such
manure application and faecal impacts from live stocks (WHO, 2008).
Approach to Microbial Water Quality Measurement
As seen in Table 3 in the appendix, there are numerous potential
pathogens that may exist in drinking water. This makes it quiet
cumbersome to test for the presence of each of them. For most of them
there are no available analytical techniques for their measurement and if
they exist, it may be sometimes be very expensive to run. More to this, it
is generally impossible to test for pathogens directly as it is basically
difficult to predict their presence and in numbers (Howard, 2002).
Against this background, the Indicator Bacteria approach has been
adopted by surveillance bodies worldwide for the assessment of the
presence of bacterial contamination in drinking water. Since faeces are
the main source of most water pathogens, the Indicator Bacteria
approach analyses the water for faecal contamination bacteria. The most
common faecal contamination bacteria normally used to refer to the
presence of other water borne pathogens is Escherichia coli (E.coli) or
the thermotolerant coliforms (Howard, 2002).
Though the presence of E. coli gives a strong indication of the presence
of other pathogens, it is not always accurate. For instance, the presence
of E. coli or thermotolerant may not provide a stronger indication of the
presence of Protozoa or virus. It is also possible to find the presence of
other pathogens in drinking water though E. coli of thermotolerant
coliforms may be absent.
In spite of these anomalies, drinking water which shows the absence of
these indicator bacteria could be regarded as low risk rather than as safe.
However, currently, these are the well known indicator bacteria seen to
give reliable evidence of the existence of water borne pathogens which
may pose health risks to human. Other indicator bacteria that may be
used includes total coliforms, faecal streptococci and bacteriophages
(Howard, 2002).
Microbial Water Quality Standards and Guidelines
In terms of microbial quality, both The WHO and Ghana Standard
Boards specify the number of counts E. coli in 100ml of all water
intended for drinking to be zero as shown in the Table 1
Improving Microbial Quality
Ground water from confined aquifers is often of high microbial quality
and may not need any extensive treatment processes to guarantee their
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safety. The safety of such drinking water depends mainly on the quality
of the source water and the protection of the distribution system from
microbial contamination.
However, surface waters which are normally of poor quality require
multiple treatment stages which include coagulation, flocculation,
sedimentation, filtration and disinfection for significant microbe
reduction in order to guarantee their safety. The multiple treatment stages is necessary due to the differing microbe groups with different
characteristics such as size, nature of protective outer layers,
physicochemical surface properties etc. (WHO, 2008).
Measuring Drinking Water Microbial Quality by Critical Parameters
Test results from E. coli or thermotolerant bacteria are not enough to
describe the microbial quality of drinking water.
To fully describe the microbial quality of drinking water, E. coli or thermotolerant bacteria are often measured together with other parameters
such as turbidity, disinfectant residual, and pH. These parameters used in
combination with E. coli or thermotolerant bacteria to describe water
microbial quality are referred to as critical parameters. (Howard, 2002)
Turbidity
Turbidity is the measure of the amount of particles suspended in water.
Turbid water may be as results of inadequate treatment (filtration) of
source water or the resuspension of sediments in distribution system.
The presence of inorganic particulates in some ground water and
sloughing of biofilm within the distribution system can also increase the
turbidity of drinking water (WHO, 2008).
The presence of particulates in water makes disinfection less effective
and can also stimulate bacterial growth. Ideally disinfection is effective at
turbidity below 0.1NTU. Turbidity as an important operational
parameter gives an indication of the effectiveness of the treatment
processes especially with the coagulation or sedimentation and the
filtration stages. According to WHO guidelines, turbidity below 5NTU
is generally acceptable to consumers though this may differ among various regional and national standards (WHO, 2008).
Ghana has the same limit for turbidity (5NTU) according to the 1998
drinking water standards set by the GSB (Okioga, 2005). However, results from research carried out on factory made sachet water and handtied sachet water showed that about 20% and 93% respectively had their
turbidity limit greater than 5NTU (Okioga, 2005).
Disinfectant/ Residual Chlorine
Residual/free/disinfectant chlorine is amount of chlorine available for
disinfection or for inactivation of disease causing organisms. The definition of residual chlorine is diagrammatically represented in (Fig. 4).
The presence of residual chlorine is an indication that:
- Sufficient amount of chlorine was added for microbial disinfection
- The water is protected from recontamination during distribution
and storage
- Pathogens are absent and the water is safe for drinking
(Chlorine Residual Testing CDC SWS Project, 2008).
Chlorine added to water can also act as an oxidant and assist in removing
chemicals such as aldicards. It can also oxidize substances such as
Manganese (II) into insoluble forms that can be removed by filtration
and arsenic into removable arsenate. However, the major disadvantage
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associated with the use of chlorine is its ability to form trihalomethanes
(THMs) and Disinfection- By-Products (DBPs) (WHO, 2008). Chlorine
is also not effective for destroying certain protozoans like
cryptosporidium (Edstrom Industries, 2003).
In general, the amount of residual chlorine in a municipal drinking water
may range between 0.5mg/l to 2mg/l. (Edstrom Industries). The WHO
suggests that drinking water transported and vended in water tankers
should contain residual chlorine of at least 0.5mg/liter at the point of
delivery (WHO, 2008).
pH
Even though no health guideline value has been proposed for pH, it is
one of the most important operational water quality parameters which
need much attention and control. This is because optimum pH value at
all the treatment stages is very necessary for satisfactory water
clarification and disinfection processes. For instance, for an effective
chlorination process, the pH of the water must be less than 8 (Edstrom
Industries, 2003).
Nevertheless, a lower pH may be a catalyst for corrosion. Drinking water
headed for distribution with a relatively lower pH may therefore corrode
water mains and household water system pipes. This could have an
effect on the color and the taste of the drinking water rendering it
unacceptable to the consumers.
The optimum pH may differ on the basis of the water characteristics and
the nature of the construction materials. However, the optimum pH
normally falls in the range of 6.5-8.5 (Edstrom Industries, 2003).
C HEMICAL D RINKING W ATER Q UALITY AND G UIDELINES
A variety of chemicals may occur in drinking water either through
natural or anthropogenic means at different points in the drinking water
supply system. Most of these chemicals which are naturally occurring
minerals mostly from source water may end up in the drinking water.
The source water may also contain chemical constituents as the results of
industrial, domestic/residential and agricultural activities.
Chemicals added during the treatment stages also contribute to the
presence of chemical constituents in the drinking water. Most these
added chemicals may either remain unchanged or react with other chemicals in the water to form new chemical compounds in the water. For instance, disinfection process may lead to the formation of disinfection
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by-products (DBPs). When Chlorine is used for disinfection, DBP mainly trihalomethanes (THMs) will be formed (Basrur, 2001).
Finally, as the drinking water finds its way through the pipe system to
consumers, there is the possibility that some of the piping materials will
get dissolved in the drinking water which is heading to its final point of
use (Basrur, 2001). Health guideline values and standards are therefore
necessary to help water regulatory institutions to control the ocurrences
of such contaminants which could render drinking water unsafe for
human consumption.
The most common chemical constituents associated with drinking water
from these sources discussed above are reviewed in the subsequent
sections.
Chemicals from Source Water
Source water due for treatment as drinking water may originate from
surface water sources or underground. Source water from these sources
may contain a variety of chemical constituents occurring naturally
depending upon the source’s geographic location or as results of human
activities. Similarly to microbes, some of these chemicals may still persist
even after treatment or react with the water and other treatment
chemicals to form different compounds which may have some health
effects.
Chemicals of natural origin such as salts of calcium, aluminium,
magnesium, strontium, iron, barium and manganese give taste to
drinking water and also determine the hardness of the drinking water.
Water hardness is measured in CaCO3 equivalence. Drinking water with
levels below 60mg/l of CaCO3 is considered soft and very hard when
above 180mg/l. Very soft drinking water may corrode drinking water
systems releasing metal contaminants such copper, zinc, lead and
Cadmium into drinking water. Hardness due to carbonates may also
deposit scales in hot water pipes and tea kettles (Basrur, 2001).
Other chemicals such as arsenic, asbestos, radon, nitrates, pesticides and
industrial pollutants may also be found in the source water. Most of
these chemicals pose major health threats to consumers (Basrur, 2001).
There have been various reports on the presences of certain chemicals in
drinking water in Ghana. Research done by Rossiter et al. 2010 on the
chemical quality of drinking water samples from bore-holes, wells, rivers
and piped water from different regions in Ghana showed the presence of
various chemicals. It was established that, the chemical water quality of
about 38% of the samples exceeded the WHO guideline values while the
pH values varied from 3.7 to 8.9 for the samples analyzed. The results
also indicated the presence of nitrate in significant number of the
samples. Nitrate was found in 21% of the samples, manganese 11% and
fluoride 6.7%. Heavy metals such as Lead, arsenic and Uranium were
found in water samples from mining areas. Elements such Al and Cl
which have no health based guideline values were also found in 95% and
5.7% respectively of the samples. (Rossiter et al, 2010).
There have also been reports of failures of many boreholes due to the
higher chemical constituent concentrations such as fluorine. About 64%
of boreholes constructed in the Northern part of Ghana failed due to the
problem of water-flow, recharge and chemical content (Rossiter et al,
2010).
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Chemicals from Chlorination and Ozonation
Chlorination is the most widely used effective disinfection process for
improving the microbial quality of drinking water. The use and presence
of chlorine itself in the treatment process is not the issue, but the
carcinogenic by-products formed when chlorine reacts with organic
pollutants. (University of Chicago Press, 1981)
The by-products from chlorination which are mainly Trihalomethanes
(THMs) are a category of CBPs found in almost all chlorinated public
water supplies. Higher levels of THMs are found in treated surface water
which is heavily polluted with organic pollutants (Basrur, 2001). It is
found out that individuals who drink chlorinated water for about 35
years or more are at a higher risk of contracting cancer of the colon,
rectal or bladder due to the presence of these CBPs. (University of
Chicago Press, 1981; Health Canada, 2006).
Halogenated acetonitriles, chlorinated ketones, halogenated phenols,
cyanogen halides and chloral hydrate are other chemicals which may be
present in chlorinated drinking water supply. These chemicals normally
occur in lower concentrations of less than 5 μg/l (Basrur, 2001). 3chloro-4-(dichloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-2(5H)-furanone (MX), a member
of chlorinated furanone family have received a lot of attention in recent
times since it is responsible for most of the chemical changes that occur
in chlorinated drinking water.
The corresponding health effects associated with occurrences of levels of
these other chemicals associated with chlorinated water are not yet
known since there are no health guideline values for these chemicals
(Basrur, 2001).
Suggested alternative process; referred to as ozonation have not been
found to be as effective as chlorination and may also release by-products
whose risks are not well understood (Basrur, 2001). The ozonation
process is most widely used alternative disinfection process to
chlorination because it does not produce CBPs which have been proven
to be carcinogenic as is the case in chlorination (Basrur, 2001).
However, the ozonation process, unlike chlorination, leaves no residual
ozone for post disinfection. Again it is expensive and energy intensive
(University of Chicago Press, 1981). Factors such as effectiveness,
efficiency, cost, convenience and the benefits of residual concentration
make chlorination a better disinfection option for improving the
microbial quality of drinking water. (Solomon et al, 1998)
More to the above, ozonation process also produces bromates as
by-product. These are formed from naturally occurring bromine.
Bromates at higher levels have the potential to cause irreversible renal
failure, deafness and even death (Basrur, 2001). The ozonation process
also produces other by-products such as aldehydes, glyoxals bromoform, dibromoacetic acid, cyanogens bromide and formaldehyde whose
health effects have not been fully evaluated (Basrur, 2001).
Chemicals from Treatment Systems
The aim of treating drinking water is to make it safe for drinking.
However the use of certain chemicals in the treatment processes rather
end up releasing other chemical contaminants into the drinking water;
high quantities of which may render the water unsafe for drinking. Most
of the potential water contaminants during treatment may have their
sources from the disinfection stage which is normally done through the
application of chlorine. Therefore, there have been extensive studies on
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the disinfection process, particularly chlorination as compared to the
other treatment options.
Contaminant which results as results of drinking water disinfection is
broadly referred to as Disinfection by-Products (DBPs). Chlorinated
by-Products (CBPs) are one common example of DBPs. Researchers
have confirmed DBPs to be carcinogenic when tested on laboratory
animals. It has also been linked to many adverse health effects. (Edstrom
Industries, 2003)
Table 4 in the appendix gives a summary of various water treatment methods and their potential by-products in drinking water.
Chemicals from Distribution Systems
Materials used for constructing pipes, joints and fixtures have the
potential to leach into drinking water during transportation and distribution of treated drinking water to consumers. This ends up in
recontamination of the treated water meant for consumption.
An example of materials which may leach into drinking water in this way
includes asbestos (from concrete-asbestos pipes); iron, copper and lead
(from metal pipes and fixtures); polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and,
polyethylene (from plastic pipes) (Basrur, 2001). The leaching of these
materials is based on factors such as pH, temperature, hardness and water residence time in pipes and containers. Soft and acidic water are the
most plumbosolvent (WHO, 2008).
Chemicals from Other Stages
Apart from those discussed above, there is the possibility the chemicals
such as Aluminium and Aluminium may also occur in the treated drinking water from other treatment stages.
Aluminium in drinking water comes from two main sources: natural
sources and by coagulation. With Aluminium being the most abundant
metal on earth, surface waters may contain up to about 2.25mg/L of
Aluminium based on the geological characteristics of the catchment area.
(WHO, 2008).
Coagulation is one of the best ways to control the formation of
by-products at the disinfection stage. This is achieved through the
removal of precursors (organic matter, pathogens, and colour) by the
addition of alum or aluminium sulphate. This may normally make the
final Aluminium concentration in drinking water higher than the source
water. However, this is a beneficial stage because it makes the disinfection process more effective and reduces the formation of by-products
which may have health effects as discussed above. (Basrur, 2001).
As at now, there are no known health effects of aluminium to humans
though it has been be found to be neurotoxic at high doses in animals.
Its role in human diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
Parkinson’s dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is not yet understood.
(Basrur, 2001).
Though alternative coagulants such as iron chloride and polyaluminum
sulphate reduce the aluminiun residue, it is not as much effective as
alum. Currently, The WHO has no health guidelines set for the levels of
Aluminium in drinking water due to the limitations in using animal data
as a model for humans. However, due to the uncertainty of the health effects of aluminium to human efforts should be made to keep the levels
as low as possible. Practical levels of 0.1mg/ and 0.2mg/l or less are
encouraged in large scale and small scale drinking water treatment
facilities (WHO, 2008; Basrur, 2001).
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Higher quantities of fluoride may occur naturally in drinking water
supply. In some occasions, fluoride is added to drinking water when it
occurs in much lower concentrations. This is done to help prevent the
occurrence of dental caries. On the other hand, a relatively higher
concentration of fluorine in drinking waters can result in a condition
called flourosis.
Mild flourosis can result in discolouring of the teeth. This situation
creates an aesthetic effect for the affected individual. Weakening of the
tooth enamel occurs when one is exposed to higher concentrations.
Exposures to much higher fluoride concentrations can weaken the bones
creating another condition called Skeletal flourosis (Basrur, 2001).
Contrary to the above, studies have concluded that fluoride containing
drinking water reduces the number of caries. Recent studies have also
proven that fluoride in drinking waters have no adverse effects on bones
or fractures in the elderly. It has also been concluded that, the only
potential negative effect of fluoride in drinking water is its possibility to
increase the occurrences of dental flourosis (Basrur, 2001).
As a guideline value, the WHO stipulates that drinking water could
contain 0.5 to 1.0mg/l fluoride (WHO, 2008). However, national specific
standards may differ when intakes from other sources such as food,
tooth paste etc and the volume of water consumed are taken into consideration (WHO, 2008). For instance in Canada, fluoride is added to
drinking water to achieve a national standard of 0.8mg/l. (Basrur, 2001).
Chemical Quality Standards and Guidelines and Health Concerns
Chemical contaminants in drinking water may not have an immediate
health effects for shorter periods of exposure. Their health effects may
become visible after long periods of exposure such as years rather than
months. Though a significant number of chemical may occur in drinking
water, only a fraction of them may have immediate health concerns. The
WHO guidelines do not attempt to give a minimum desirable
concentration for chemical constituents in water although a few of them
may have a positive health effect. For instance; in the case of fluorine it
helps in preventing dental caries (WHO, 2008).
However, The WHO emphasis that more attention is given to some
selected chemicals which are found to pose serious health threats to
people through their exposure in drinking water. Some of these selected
chemical contaminants are of natural origin whiles other are of
anthropogenic sources. Selenium, arsenic and fluoride are chemicals
which are of natural origin and pose a great threat to majority of
consumers who live in area where these chemicals occur in their ground
and surface waters. Nitrate, iron, manganese and lead etc can also pose
health threats to consumers either directly or indirectly (WHO, 2007).
Some chemical quality guidelines values as set by WHO are presented
and discussed in the subsequent sections of this report.
D RINKING W ATER P RODUCTION IN A CCRA
Water supply for the Accra-Tema metropolitan Area is treated at the
Kpong and Weija headworks under the auspices of AVRL and GWCL.
From these plants, the treated water is released to two booster stations
located in Okponglo and Ashaiman respectively for post chlorination
and distribution. This is done to destroy pathogens that may have been
developed in the distribution pipelines before getting to the consumers.
The Chlorination is done through the injection of chlorine gas into the
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
treated water coming to the booster stations for subsequent distribution
(The Ghanaian Chronicle, 2003).
The water production capacity for Kpong and the Weija waterworks as
of 2008 stood at 200,000m3/day (44mgd) and 181,820m3/day (40mgd)
respectively. An ongoing expansion work at the two stations on
completion will increase the total water production capacity to about
450,000m3/day (99mgd) (Sahl & Westerblom, 2008). This will help to
meet the water demand in the metropolis which has been one of the
most recent challenges to the quality of life in the city.
Water Treatment at the Kpong Water Works
The Kpong Waterworks is located 75km northeast of Accra. Its service
areas include Tema, Eastern and central Accra. The facility takes its raw
water source from the Volta River. The raw water is passed through two
plants (Kpong New plant and Kpong Old plant) for treatment (Sahl &
Westerblom, 2008).
The water treatment process at the Kpong water works is made up of
nine main steps; namely the intake stage, mixing, clariflocculation,
filtration, backwashing, post-chlorination, pH adjustment stage, the
monitoring stage and the ancillary section (High Lift Station). (Sahl &
Westerblom, 2008)
The Intake Stage
The Kpong Waterworks has its raw water source from the Kpong Hydro
Dam reservoir which acts as the raw water storage for the facility. The
water flow in the lake is very slow and this enhances pre-sedimentation
of the raw water before it is finally taken into the treatment processes. At
the intake point, the lake is about 9 meters deep. By Gravity, the raw
water flows through two inlets provided with screens to trap incoming
substances such as rags, leaves etc coming with the raw water (Sahl &
Westerblom, 2008).
The Mixing Stage
At this stage, the raw water is mixed with chemicals and aerated at the
same time. These processes occur in two Chambers (I and II). The
chamber I was initially used for a continuous pre-chlorination of the intake water to control algal growth. Currently, pre-chlorination and the
addition of other chemical in this chamber have been stopped.
The simultaneous aeration of the raw water in this chamber helps in
removing dissolved iron and manganese and hence reducing their
concentrations in the treated water. In chamber II constant turbulence
and periodic agitation/mixing occurs to enhance the thorough mixing of
the water (Sahl & Westerblom, 2008).
Clariflocculation
This is the stage where the ultimate sedimentation of the water occurs. It
is made up of three circular clarifiers (I, II and III) each of which is also
made up two chambers; primary and secondary chambers. Water from
the maxing basin enters the primary chamber of clarifier (I) through the
bottom. It rises in level until at a certain point when it begins to spill
through perforations into the secondary chamber of clarifier (I). The
secondary chamber of clarifier (I) subsequently provides more clarified
water to the primary chamber of clarifier (II) and the flow continues
(Sahl & Westerblom, 2008).
This continuous flow ensures a thorough sedimentation of the water before it finally gets to the filter station. The water heading to the filter station is now referred to as settled water. The sediments at the bottom of
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the clarifiers are daily withdrawn with pumps through the dislodging
process. Flocculants are not used during this process and hence no flocculation occurs (Sahl & Westerblom, 2008).
Filtration
The settled water by gravity moves to the filtration stage which is made
up of ten Rapid Gravity Sand Filters. The filters are made up of layers of
fine sand (at the top), gravels (at the bottom) and nozzles supports
underneath. The settled water enters the filter bed from the top, moves
through the various layers down into an underground reservoir which
acts as a storage for the filtrate. Residues which are not settled during the
clariflocculation process get trapped in the sand bed. It is therefore
necessary to wash the filter bed within every 72 hour of operations (Sahl
& Westerblom, 2008).
Backwashing
This is the process of removing the suspended particles trapped in the
sand bed by the use of air and treated water. During the process, the
clarified and filtered water gates are closed and air is blown through the
bed from the bottom with air blower machines. This is done in order to
dislodge the trapped suspended particles from the sand bed. After about
five minutes, treated water is pumped through the filter to rinse the sand
particles of the dirt. The backwashed is then channeled out as waste
water. The whole backwashing process may take about 20 minutes to
complete and filter bed is ready to be used again (Sahl & Westerblom,
2008).
The Post-Chlorination Stage
The post-chlorination process involves the disinfection of the treated
water stored in the reservoirs with chlorine before it leaves the treatment
facility to the consumers. A percentage of the chlorine referred to as
residual chlorine is allowed to go with the treated water to ensure continual disinfection due to the probability of bacteria infection during distribution and storage (Sahl & Westerblom, 2008).
The Monitoring Stage
The monitoring stage involves a control laboratory responsible for
analyzing the physical, chemical and bacteriological characteristics of the
raw water, the settled, the filtered water and the final post-chlorinated
water. Samples are analyzed in an hour interval to ensure that the water
always meet the Ghanaian water standards (Sahl & Westerblom, 2008).
The High Lift Station
This is the Master Control Room for managing the electrical and
mechanical components of the treatment facility. This unit has four
pumps out of which one is a stand-by. The pumps are operated by
electricity directly supplied from the Akosombo Dam to ensure steady
power supply (Sahl & Westerblom, 2008).
Kpong Waterworks Drinking water Treatment Chemicals
Most of the chemicals employed in treating the raw water at the facility
occurred at the mixing stage. In recent times, chemicals such as sodium
carbonate, lime, chlorine and aluminium sulphate applied at this treatment stage have been stopped since there have been some improvement
in the raw water quality from the River Volta which serves as the primary
source to the Kpong Waterworks. This is as results of the construction
of two large dams which acts as sedimentation basins for the raw water
from the River Volta (Lulani et al, 2008). However, it is been forecast
22
Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
that the quality of the water from the Volta River may deteriorate as the
settlements in its catchment area continue to grow (Ghanaweb, 2005).
Calcium Hypochlorite is sometimes substituted for chlorine during
disinfection when the main chlorinator at facility falls out of operations.
In such instance, about 12 drums (45kg each) of Calcium Hypochlorite
(60% of available chlorine) are manually added to the water. At times 5
drums are used due to lack of manpower required for the mixing
processes (Lulani et al, 2008). This practice could have an effect on the
quality of the supplied since the required quantity of the hypochlorite is
not used and also considering the less effectiveness of the hypochlorite
when compared to Chlorine.
Brief Water Treatment Description at the Weija Water Works
The Weija Waterworks is located 15km west of Accra and supplies
water. Its service areas include Accra west and Accra north-east districts
by the help of gravity. The Weija waterworks has its raw water source
from the Densu River. The raw water is drawn through three treatment
plants (Adam Clark, Pintsh-Bamag and Candy Patterson) which work in
parallel (Lulani et al, 2008).
The Adam Clark plant is made up of aeration tank, contact tank, clarifying chambers, slow sand filtration and disinfection stages. Water moves
from one stage to the other only by the help of pumps. The
Pintsh-Bamag and Candy Patterson is made up of raw water tank, sedimentation tanks, clarifying chambers, slow sand filtration and disinfection chamber. The flow is by pump and gravity (Lulani et al, 2008).
T HE W ATER S UPPLY S ITUATION IN G HANA , THE C ASE OF
A CCRA
The assessment of the water supply performance at the community,
regional or national level is normally done by taking into accounts The
Quantitative Service Indicators, a system which has been adopted by a
number of countries. These indicators include quality, quantity, coverage,
continuity and cost (WHO, 1997).
The above indicators are reviewed with respect to the water supply
situation in the Accra Metropolis in the sections below.
Accessibility
Access to improved water sources for domestic purposes is more
important than just a mere access to water. Currently, a higher
proportion of the country’s population has access to improved water
sources. It is estimated that about 10.7 million people representing 53%
of the country’s population have access to improved water supplies. In
the urban centres in Ghana, approximately 61% of the 8.4 million residents have access to safe water supplied by the GWCL while the remaining 3.3 million depends on other alternative water sources (WaterAid
2008 p.7). Residents in the un-served areas depend on secondary supplies such as water vendors, tanker service delivery and dedicated GWCL
filling points. (WaterAid Report, 2008)
According to the results from the Core Welfare Indicators Questionnaire
(CWIQ) Survey in 2003, about 94% of the households in the country
spend less than 30minutes to get to their main source of water supply
(Ghana Statistical Service, 2003).
Though this figure is highest for the Greater Accra region(97.1%) and
lowest (80.2%) for the Northern Region, figures on the access to improved water supply for drinking give a differing results. Among the ten
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regions in Ghana, The upper West Region records the highest percentage (90.0%) of households with access to improved water supply followed by the Ashanti Region with a score of about 84.9%. and then the
lowest (52.1%) for the Volta Region (Ghana Statistical Service, 2003).
Demand and Supply
It is estimated that, the total water demand for consumption in the
Greater Accra Region currently stands around 250mgd
(1,136,523m3/day). Out of this, the GWCL is able to produce only
80mgd (363,687m3/day) for consumption (Bissew, 2010). This quantity
is not enough to meet the demand of 110mgd (500,070m3/day) of the
Accra city alone let alone the whole region. Out of the about 1.7million
urban dwellers in Accra, only about 7% have access to in-house piped
water.
The supply and demand situation looks worse when Unaccounted-for
Water (UFW) which is currently at 50% is taken in to account though
some portion of UFW is claimed to be used by residents. The poor, who
does not have access to piped water buys from their wealthy neighbors
and the cost, can be as much as 20 times higher than the normal price.
(Awuah et al, 2007). In addition to this, occasional breakdown of treatment plants as results of shortage of chemicals and other factors also
compounds the already chronic water supply problem which has beleaguered the city for some time now (Myjoyonline.com, 2009).
The Table 2 shows the deficits in water supply to the residents in the
metropolis.From the Table 2, it can be deduced that Accra’s water demands far outweigh the supply hence the frequent water shortages in the
metropolis.
Reliability
Compounding the water problem in Accra is the intermittent disruption
of water flow in the metropolis. On daily basis, the average accessibility
rate to safe drinking water in urban centres is 20hrs/day. The situation is
however more acute in the Accra city. In Accra, it is estimated that only
about 25% of the population have access to 24hours of safe water
supply. About 30% have access to average of 12 hours access per day for
five days per week and 35% have access to two days access per week.
The remaining residents, who leave at the outskirts of Accra, basically
have no access to piped water supplies (WaterAid, 2008).
Quality
In Accra, consumer’s perception about the quality of water flow has not
been the best. The microbial, chemical, and physical quality data of the
treated water is hardly known by the consumers, a situation which is
quite different from Sweden where one can easily get access to some of
these data on the click of the website of the water producing companies
for instance, The Stockholm Vatten AB.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
However, some of the media in Ghana on some occasions have revealed
several factors which put the quality of the treated water in doubt both at
treatment site and during distribution. Investigation done by The
Ghanaian Chronicle in 2003 revealed some lapses in the treatment
processes and bad housekeeping procedures which could have effects on
the quality of the treated water.
In the course of the investigation, it was revealed that the post chlorinators which served the two booster stations had been out of order for a
couple of days and that bleaching powder (calcium hypochlorite) were
used for the post chlorination process instead of chlorine gas. (The
booster stations are meant to temporary store the treated water from the
Kpong Dam for storage and distribution. They are located in Ashaiman
and Okponglo in the Accra-Tema metropolis) (The Ghanaian Chronicle,
2003). This could have negative effect on the quality of the water supply
as bleaching powder has a lesser disinfection capability, corrosive and
has strong odors. It can also generate enough heat when it reacts with
organic materials and this could result in explosion or fire outbreak
(Tech Brief, 1996).
In 2008, the Ghana News Agency, made a report of an occurrence of
stinky tap water flowing into homes for consumption. This problem was
as results of leaking and broken distribution pipe lines immersed in sewage water. The stinky sewage water had found its way into these pipe
lines and consequently contaminating the treated the water meant for
consumption (Ghana News Agency, 2008).
One primary factor which could affect the quality and cost of treated water supply in the metropolis is as reported by The Ghanaian Journal is
the degree of water pollution at the source water, in this case the Weija
and Kpong reservoir. Pollutants from human activities such as quarrying,
illegal fishing methods, farming and encroachment have reduced the
quality of the raw water and consequently affecting the quality of the
treated output water meant for consumption. This has led to the creation
of the Weija Lake Protection Association by the government which is
tasked with a responsibility of ensuring the safety of the Lake
(The Ghanaian Journal, 2010).
The water quality is also worsened through the activities of water vendors. It has been shown that water sold from vendors in jerry cans or
small fixed tanks is of much less quality (WHO, 2003).
The quality of the tap water supply has been so worrisome that Ghana
Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) uncharacteristically declared support for ad-valorem tax on sachet and bottled water in
order to raise funds for improving water quality and accessibility. This
could improve consumer trust in tap water usage while discouraging the
3/day)
patronage of sachet and bottled water services which is(mbeen
regarded as
unsustainable when cost, health and environmental risks are taken into
account. Though CONIWAS encourages people to use tap water, it
however advised consumers to treat their tap water through boiling, aquatabs, non toxic water purifiers and other safe means (Ghana News
Agency, 2010).
These among other media reports and speculations about the quality of
tap water in the metropolis have compelled some sections of the Ghanaian population to develop taste for bottled and sachet water. According to the survey conducted by Lundehn et al, (2008) in Accra, about
43% of people interviewed claimed they felt unsafe drinking tap water,
while about 87% responded positively to drinking sachet or bottled
water.
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Affordability
In Ghana, it is a common situation that the people complain about the
cost of drinking water a situation which is very common in the urban
centers especially in the capital, Accra. The sections below take a look at
the water tarrif situation in Ghana.
Water Tariff Situation in Ghana
Utility tariffs are set in Ghana through a dialogue with the utility service
providers, NGOs, customers and other relevant stakeholders. New tariffs are normally proposed by utility service providers, who cite reasons
to justify their new proposed tariffs. The Public Utilities Regulatory
Commission (PURC) then dialogues with the utility service providers,
NGOs, customers and relevant stakeholders before the tariffs are finally
approved. (Kwesi-Mintah, 2010).
Despite the above, any suggestion to further increase the cost of treated
tap water to consumers has always been greeted with strong oppositions
from consumers and interested NGOs. This is basically due to the fact
that, customers claim reasons for previous water tariff increment by the
water company have not reflected in the quality of service delivery with
respect to accessibility, reliability and quality, which have been the basic
motivations for almost every tariff increment in the water sector (The
Ghanaian Chronicle, 2010).
History of Water Tariff- Pricing
There have been a number of increments in water tariffs in Ghana for
reasons such as cost recovery, water sector infrastructural improvement
and expansion, and to improve the overall water sector performance
with respect to quality, accessibility and reliability of water supplied. Between 1990 and 1997, the average cost of water in urban areas in Ghana
hovered in the range of $0.10 to $0.15 per cubic meter (Wikipedia, 2010).
In May, 2001, in response to a letter from the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the Government of Ghana, the PURC allowed the
GWCL to raise the water prices by 95 percent in order to help the company operate at full cost recovery level. Despite this increment, the
GWCL still operated at 65% of the full cost recovery level until 2003,
when the government proposed another 12% increment which was supposed to allow the GWCL operate at full cost recovery this time round
(The Ghanaian Chronicle, 2010).
Similarly, in 2007 another increment was proposed which raised the cost
for 0-20,000 litres from 0.40GHc/1000litres to 0.66GHc/1000litres
representing about 64%. Water meant for commercial/industrial consumption was increased by about 35%. This was done so as to generate
more funds for production of potable water (Sahl and Westerblom,
2008).
The most current water increment took place in June 2010. By this, water tariffs were raised by 36%. As usual, the reason cited for the increment was to generate more revenue to assist in the management of
GWCL/AVRL to cover key operational cost such as cost for water
treatment chemicals, maintenance and replacement of old and out of
service equipments (Ghana News Agency, 2010).
In response to the public agitations concerning the increase in water tariffs, Muomaalah (2010) from the GWCL/AVRL argued that the higher
cost of water tariffs and its occasional increments as perceived by
consumers in the country is due to a number of factors, paramount
among them is the pollution of raw water resources by human activities.
26
Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
This leads to higher operational cost as more capital would have to be
invested in buying expensive and greater amount of chemicals to treat
such waters which affects water tariffs.
For instance, as a result of the highly polluted nature of the Weija dam it
costs about 10% more to treat about 1 million meter cube of raw water
from the dam which is far more expensive than it costs to treat the same
quantity of raw water from the Kpong Dam. These high costs for water
treatment add up to the cost of water sold to consumers (Ghana News
Agency, 2010).
Water Cost Disparities in Accra
The unevenly distribution and chronic water shortage in the city has given rise to different cost for the same quantity of water used by different
class of consumers spread across the various the areas in the city. In
many urban centers, of which Accra is one, there have been wide variations in a unit cost of water to customers, with lower-income customers
paying more times of the lifeline price. The major factor responsible for
the varying water costs to the different income levels is the source of water. Treated tap water coming directly from the GWCL/AVRL, mostly
readily available to high-income customers is always cheaper as compared to those from indirect sources such as neighbors, water tankers,
private vendors bottled and sachet water etc. (Nyarko et al, 2008).
Studies conducted by Nyarko et al (2008), on water coping strategies in
Accra showed that a majority (31%) of the city dwellers from various income levels depended on water from bottled and sachet water. It was
followed by water from neighbors (20%), tanker operators (19%), private
vendors (8%), rain water harvesting (7%) and hand dug wells (4%). The
remaining about 11 percent were not resorting any coping strategies and
depended solely on the water supply from the GWCL/AVRL for their
water needs. It is interesting to note that the percentages which depended on the coping strategies are made up of both GWCL/AVRL
customers (Nyarko et al, 2008).
According to the studies, water from bottled and sachet water was the
most expensive and cost as much as 800 and 120 times up the GWCL
lifeline tariffs respectively. Water from neighbors and vendors cost 3
times more than the GWCL lifeline tariffs and the cost for water from
tanker operators could also go up to about 15 times more the lifeline
price (Nyarko et al, 2008).
In the low and middle income areas such as Nungua and Adenta, where
water supply from GWCL/AVRL is relatively more irregular, customers
pay as much as $6.3/m3 for water supplied by tertiary vendors ( those
who buy directly from GWCL/AVRL or tanker operators) who sell to
secondary vendors ( push-truck vendors) through to the final customer.
In Ghana, the price of drinking water is higher for customers from low
income areas with poor housing structures.
This is due to the increasing block tariff system which penalizes houses
with many households using single meter (Nyarko et al, 2008). On the
average, customers from low and middle income levels who does not
have access to GCWL/AVRL tap water connections tends to pay for
water acquired from secondary and tertiary sources which more expensive. This is clearly elaborated in the Table 3. (Nyarko et al, 2008)
T HE S WITCH TO S ACHET W ATER
The inability of the government and the GWCL/AVRL to satisfy the
above mentioned Quantitative Service Indicators such as accessibility,
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TRITA LWR Degree Project 11:12
reliability and quality has been the main drivers for the switch to the use
of sachet water products which is most readily accessible and also perceived by most consumers to be more safer to use especially for drinking
purposes than the tap water (lundehn et al, 2008). The switch to the use
of the factory made sachet water popularly known in Ghana as ‘pure water’ is also due to changes in fashion towards design water, and the
increased influx of people into urban centers (Obiri-Danso et al, 2003;
Institute for Infrastructure Development, 2009).
As pointed out earlier, sachet and bottled water was rated the highest at
31 percent in comparison with the other various water coping strategies
adapted by most inhabitants in various parts of Accra in research conducted by Nyarko et al ( 2008) on the water coping Strategies in Accra.
For this reason, the risks associated with the use of this product should
be given the needed attention since it is being patronized by very significant portion of the urban population for drinking and in some cases
bathing (Addai n.d.). It is alleged that products are also used in the hospitals, theaters, as well as the delivery rooms (Institute for Infrastructure
Development, 2009).
The remainder of this project therefore focuses on the risks associated
with the various aspects of the sachet water commodity such as health,
environmental and the socio-economic which make the patronage of the
commodity unsustainable.
Prior to the introduction of the factory made sachet water, consumers
previously relied on vended drinking water locally referred to as icewater. This water is contained in hand tied polyethylene bag. In some
cases, the water was sold directly from a bucket with a single cup to the
consumers (Obiri-Danso et al, 2003). During this ice-water packaging,
process air is blown into a polyethylene bag; it is then filled with funnelinserted foam filter on which the water is poured from above through into the polyethylene. In some cases, the foam filter is not used as shown
in the Fig. 5 (Dodoo et al, 2006).
The water may be chilled before the filling and packaging process by the
addition of ice-blocks to the raw water. It may otherwise, be put in a refrigerator to cool after the filling/tying process for a couple of hours before been sold out to consumers. This was normally practiced when
many people did not own fridges before the late 90s.
It is interesting to note that this hand-tied iced water has always being
referred in Ghana as ice-water weather cooled or not cooled. The icewater manufactured in this way poses the risk of germs infections during
the manual mouth air blowing stage and the hand tying process. The
main source of water for the two categories is the tap water and
Fig. 5. Traditional Hand-Tied-Ice-water and modern sachet
water known in Ghana as pure water. Source: Okioga, 2007.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
occasionally well water (Obiri-Danso et al, 2003).
The introduction of the pure water received a lot of patronage from
consumers due to the higher risk of germs contamination associated with
traditional iced-water considering the manner in which it is being prepared. Sachet water which then became an improved form of the
previous vended drinking water received a greater public trust with respect to quality. Notwithstanding, a significant number of the urban
population still depend on the hand-tied iced-water since it is more affordable than the factory made sachet and bottled water (Obiri-Danso et
al, 2003).
Sachet Water and Regulation in Ghana
The Ghana Standards Board (GSB) and The Ghana Foods and Drugs
Board (GFDB) are the two main government institutions responsible for
the regulation of the sachet water industry in Ghana. However, while it is
optional to have sachet water products approved by the GSB, it is mandatory that it is been registered at the GFDB.
Though there appear to be some kind of duplication in the roles, registration and certification by both agencies ensures the sachet water products which come to the market are wholesome for public consumption.
(Okioga, 2005).
Certification by the Ghana Standard Board
The certification by the GSB involves several stages. First, the sachet water producing company tender in its application for certification. The
submitted application must include a complete application form together
with the company’s registration certificate. The application is then followed with an inspection of the company by the GSB to assess the Quality Management System applied in the company. Satisfied with that, the
laboratory analysis of the water products are also carried out (Okioga,
2005).
The products are also inspected for labeling requirements as specified by
the GSB. As a label, the GSB expects the finished packaged product to
bear the product name, brand name or trade name. It is also to bear the
net volume, name and address of company, the batch code as well the
expiry date which is to be indicated by the words: “BEST BEFORE”
(Okioga, 2005).
Been satisfied with the above procedures, the GSB then issues the company with the certification or license which allows the company to indicate the “Mark of Conformity” or the Certification Mark or the “Quality
Mark” on the sachet water product. The sign for this mark is shown in
Fig. 6. The sign shows the unique registration number for all products
and a standard number that denote the product type. The license remains
valid for one year after which it can be renewed. The GSB carries out intermittent inspection of the products both on the marke and at the factory to make sure they meet the quality standards at all times. (Okioga,
2005).
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Certification by the Ghana Food and Drugs Boards
Similarly to GSB, the application for registration with the GFDB starts
with the submission of a completed application form, together with supporting documents which includes the company’s business registration
certificate, certificate of analysis, and a site master plan of the company.
(Okioga, 2005).
It must also contain health certificate of all the workers in the production line showing their test results for diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis A and E, typhoid, and other communicable diseases. Produced sachet water samples are then taken for analysis to prove its quality against
Ghana water standards. The products are then registered after the above
procedures are followed and the registration remains valid for three years
after which it can be renewed (Okioga, 2005).
Those company who does not voluntarily apply for certification are still
required to be examined by the GFDB and issued with a pre-registration
certificate before they are been allowed to produce sell their products on
the market (Okioga, 2005).
Despite these processes, there are still a major number of the sachet water manufacturers whose product is neither certified by the GFDB nor
the GSB. According to the GFDB, about 51% of the sachet water products on the market are not certified either by the GSB or the GFDB.
This they say poses a grim health implication for the public (Ghanaweb,
2010).
Sachet Water Production and Packaging
The main source of raw water for the sachet water industry is the tap water from the GWCL/AVRL. According the GFDB, the minimum
treatment procedures required for the production of sachet drinking water should be made up of at least five filtration steps and one stage of
disinfection by UV (Okioga, 2005).
Even though the producers may buy the raw tap water from
GWCL/AVRL, it is still seem as illegal since the treated water from the
GWCL/AVRL is mostly meant for domestic consumption and not for
commercial purposes. In her address, Dr. Hannah Bissew (2010) the
Deputy Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing hinted the
public of the government’s intention to ban the producers from using
the treated water from GWCL/AVRL. Instead, she stated that the government intends to sell raw untreated water to these companies. In this
way, she said, will help the GWCL/AVRL to save money and make
more water available to their domestic customers (Myjoyonline, 2010).
As opposed to the production stages stated above, it is reported that
some other operators just bag well or tap water without any further
treatment under poor hygienic conditions and sell on them Ghanaian
market. Beds or columns of ion exchange resins or activated charcoal are
also employed by most producers for the treatment process. The beds
used in this production process can also be a source of bacterial
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
contamination unless it is properly maintained and serviced (Addo et al,
2009).
The water is then packaged in high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags.
This type of plastic material is more opaque, has higher tensile strength
and can withstand high temperatures. An HDPE plastic is made up of
toxic materials such as chromium oxide, benzoyl peroxide, hexane and
cyloxane (Okioga, 2005). Despite these toxic constituents, in Ghana, the
concerns about the use of these plastic materials in packaging drinking
water have mainly been about its environmental impacts. The quality and
the properties of the plastic in relations with its direct health effects
when used in packaging drinking water has not been much debated and
researched into.
In the larger perspective, research has shown that, many plastic constituents deemed toxic do not necessary migrate into foods (Okioga, 2005).
However, in his research in the Sustainable Plastic Water Management-A
Case of Accra, Ghana, it was mentioned that, under the influence of
light, heat and mechanical pressure some of these plastic materials have
the potential to release some of monomers into the packaged products
which may be hazardous (Wienah, 2007).
Microbial, Chemical and Physical Quality of Sachet Water sold in
Ghana
There have not been a lot of researches on the sachet water products
sold on the Ghanaian markets until recent times since the introduction
of the production in the late 90s. The uncertainty about the quality of
the commodities and their synergic environmental and socio-economic
impacts could be more difficult to contain in the near future if they are
not presently addressed by policy makers and the respective institutions.
To avert this trend, there have been some recent studies on the products
in some selected urban centers in Ghana. Studies to access the situation
begun somewhere in 2003 by Obiri-Danso et al who focused their studies on the “microbial quality of drinking water sold on the streets in
Kumasi” the second most populous city after Accra.
During their studies, 8 bottled drinking water, 88 sachet water and 40
hand-filled hand-tied polyethylene bagged drinking water were randomly
obtained from the market and examined in the laboratory. The results
from the examination showed the presence of heterotrophic bacteria in
all the three types of water samples examined for TVCs (Total Viable
Counts) ranging from 1 to 460 for bottled water, 2 to 6.33 x 105 for
“pure water” and 2.33 x 103 to 7.33 x 1012 hand-filled hand-tied polyethylene bagged drinking water (Obiri-Danso et al, 2003).
The analysis of the samples also showed the presence of microbial indicators of faecal contaminations in some samples of the hand-filled handtied polyethylene drinking water and the sachet water, but none in the
bottled water samples (Obiri-Danso et al, 2003).
The Fig. 7 shows the summary of the microbial indicators of faecal contamination for the three types of water samples analyzed.
The analysis also showed the presence of iron in all the water sample
types though it was within The WHO recommendations. However,
manganese and Lead were not detected in any of the sample types. The
results from the studies led to the conclusion that bottled water sold in
Ghana is of good microbial quality where as some of the sachet and
hand-filled hand tied water are of doubtful quality (Obiri-Danso et al,
2003).
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In 2005, further research was carried out by Kwakye-Nuako et al to assess the safety of the sachet water sold in Accra. In their research, 27
randomly purchased 500ml sachet drinking water were subjected to
microscopic examination to determine the presence of parasitic protozoa. From the analysis, it was found that 77% of the samples contained
infective stages of pathogenic parasitic organism and 93% of the sample
contained unidentified impurities or artifacts (Kwakye-Nuako et al,
2005).
Fig. 8 gives the summary of the percentage of the samples with a specified type of pathogens they contain.
The studies from this research also confirmed the presence of contaminants of faecal and zoonotic origin in some of the sachet water examined. This poses health threat to the public as the organisms identified
so far have the potential to cause water related diseases whose effects are
much felt by children and the immunocompromised individuals
(Kwakye-Nuako et al, 2005).
More to the above, another research done by Dodoo et al (2006) to determine the quality of sachet water sold in the Cape Coast Municipality
in Ghana also gave similar conclusion as the ones above. The research
was conducted on randomly selected 180 samples belonging to 29 different brands of sachet water products. The study was carried out from
1999 to 2004. During the research, it was discovered that all the 45% of
the samples subjected to bacteriological test contained some coliform
bacteria (Dodoo et al, 2006).
However, the pH recorded for the various brands of sachet water were
all within the WHO recommendations of 6.5-8.5 except for the brands
tested in 2002 in which 50% of the samples tested had their pH below
the minimum value required for drinking water (Dodoo et al, 2006).
In terms of conductivity, the samples analyzed gave different range of
results for the various brands analyzed over the five years period as
shown in Table 4. The results from the Table 4 indicate that some of the
sachet water tested had their conductivity levels above the recommended
WHO guideline value of 250 μS/cm. The highest conductivity level of
415μS/cm was recorded for one Voltic bottled water sample in 2000
(Dodoo et al, 2006). The summary of results for the conductivity on the
various brands is presented in Table 4. The Dodoo et al (2006) research
also gave varying range of results for both alkalinity and total hardness
for the various sachet water samples analyzed for the time period. These
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
results are presented in Table 5.
In comparison with the WHO guideline value of 100-500mg/l CaCO3,
for total hardness, it was shown that all the samples analyzed have their
total hardness below the desirable minimum value for quality drinking
water (Dodoo et al, 2006). These research results and many consumer
experiences might have fuelled the perception that plastic sachet water
sold in Ghana are of doubtful bacteriological quality when compared to
the bottled water brands where lesser research work have been carried
out. The only research done on bottled water brands is the one which
was conducted by Obiri-K Danso et al (2003) in Kumasi which confirmed the public perception that bottled water are of good bacteriological quality than the plastic sachet brands. This is because no recordings
were made for total and faecal coliforms in all the eight bottled water
samples analyzed. This is yet to be confirmed by this pilot research in
which two bottled water brands are also analyzed alongside the sachet
water brands.
L ABORATORY A NALYSIS OF S AMPLES FROM G HANA
As part of this pilot studies, a laboratory analysis was conducted on both
sachet and bottled water samples from Ghana. The details of the analysis
are presented in the sections below.
Methodology and Description of Results
The case of this study was conducted on six different sachet water sample brands randomly bought from the one of the busiest commercial
centers in Accra, popularly known as the Circle. Two additional bottled
water drinking water samples were added. The samples were collected in
a pair of two for each particular brand. The whole samples (fig. 9) were
then air-lifted within a few days to Stockholm, Sweden where laboratory
analysis on the samples were conducted. The samples were analyzed for
their:
- Bacteriological Quality
- Physical Quality
- Basic ions (Cations and Anions) and
- Trace/heavy metals*
In the case of heavy metals the samples were airlifted to Canada for the
analysis.
Microbial Quality Test
The samples for the bacteriological analysis were done at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control. The samples for bacteriological
analysis was taken directly from their original containers as brought from
Ghana as shown in Fig. 9. The original sample temperature was at 10oC.
Each of the samples were analyzed for the number slow-growing
bacteria at 22oC for seven days, number of micro-organism at 22oC for
.
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three days, E. coli (with colilert 18) and Coliform bacteria.The results of
the analysis are displayed in the Table 6.
Discussion of Results: Microbial Quality Test
Microorganisms are organisms such as bacteria, viruses and protozoans.
These organisms are normally seen with the aid of microscopes. The
most common microorganisms that may be found in water are bacteria
(such as Shigella, Escherichia coli, Vibrio, and Salmonella), viruses (such
as Norwalk virus and rotaviruses) and protozoans (such as Entamoeba,
Giardia, and Cryptosporidium). Though some microorganisms are harmless, a majority of them can also results in symptoms such as nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
Number of Microorganisms
To ascertain the level of the general microbial quality of the samples, the
samples were tested for the number of microorganisms. The test was
conducted on all the samples at a 22oC for 3 days. The highest number
of microorganisms was recorded for five of the six sachet water samples.(Fresh Cool, Standard, Tic Tac, Ice Cool and First Ever) and one
bottled water sample (Voltic).
The number of microorganism recorded for these samples are greater
than 300cfu/l as shown in Table 6. The second largest number of about
250cfu/l was recorded for Bonaqua bottled water sample. The lowest
number of microorganisms was surprisingly recorded for Ever Pure sachet water sample.
Slow Growing Bacteria
In the case of slow growing bacteria, the results showed that three sachet
water brands namely Fresh Cool, Standard and First Ever contained the
highest number of slow growing bacteria. These samples contained more
than 30,000cfu/ml. The number of slow growing bacteria in Ever Pure
and Ice Cool (30cfu/ml and 3500cfu/ml respectively) were lower than
those found in the two bottled water samples Voltic and Bonaqua
(4000cfu/ml and 13000cfu/ml).
The number of the slow growing bacteria was also lower in Tic Tac
(9400cfu/ml) than Bonaqua (13000cfu/ml). The numbers of slow growing bacteria were lowest in Ever Pure (30cfu/ml) which is a sachet water
brand.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Fig.9. Samples of bottled and sachet water products from Ghana.
Coliform Bacteria and E. coli
The Coliform bacteria test results showed that all the samples contained
some amount of coliforms. Surprisingly, this was worst for the two bottled water samples than all the sachet water samples studied. While most
of the sachet water samples recorded about less than 1mpn/100ml,
about 4mpn/100ml and 5mpn/100ml was recorded for Bonaqua and
Voltic bottled water samples respectively. They contained the highest
number of probable coliform bacteria counts. The second largest was
r
e
c
o
r
d
e
d
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TRITA LWR Degree Project 11:12
recorded for only one sachet water sample Tik Tac (3mpn/100ml).The
results from the E. coli test show the presence of faecal bacteria in all the
samples studied, even though both the bottled and sachet water samples
contained less than 1mpn/100ml of water.
Inferences from the Microbial Test
The result from this test puts the safety of the bottled water samples
with respect to their microbial quality in doubts as is the case for most
sachet water products. This study has also revealed that some of the sachet water samples sold on the Ghanaian market may have quiet lower
number of microorganisms as in the case of Ever Pure sachet water than
some bottled water brands.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services,
it is reported that bottled water like any ordinary tap water could also
contain microorganisms and that, the presence of microorganisms in
bottled water may depend on the source and how the packaged water is
treated. This could be one of the reasons for the existence of microbes in
the bottled water which was perceived to be of better microbial quality
than the sachet water brands (New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, 1997).
It has also been proofed that, the growth of bacteria in bottled water
brands depends on factors such as time and temperature. Bottled water
stored for a relatively longer period of time and at or above room temperature can thus promote bacterial growth (Litchfield & Seminara A.,
2010).
According to study, it is known that bottled water is relatively stored under warmer (room) temperatures for longer period of time after manufacture. In the absence of residual disinfectants, there can be substantial
growth of bacteria such as heterotrophic-plate-count-bacteria and Pseudomonas. According to study, the number of total bacteria counts can
increase by 1000 fold or more when a bottled mineral water is stored for
one week. It is also proofed that water packaged in bottled water facilitates bacteria growth levels than gasified water stored in glass containers
(Safe Drinking Water Foundation, 2009).
This could be one factor responsible for the existence of bacteria and
other microorganisms in the samples studied. The (Fig. 10) shows the
growth of bacteria in bottled water brands as a function of time.
Considering the economic status of the inhabitants in the city, it can be
assumed that only fewer number of the population could patronize the
bottled brands. It is therefore likely that these water samples might have
spent relatively even longer time on the market since major part of the
Ghanaian population consume more of the sachet water samples as
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
compared to the bottled samples. This situation can increase the period
the products spends on the market prior to consumption which could
contribute to bacteria growth in the brands.
The detection of coliform bacteria subsequently confirmed by the presence of E. coli is a strong indication that both the sachet water and the
bottled water samples have been subjected to faecal contaminations.
This is because E. coli is a type of a faecal coliform. Drinking water contaminated with human and animal waste may contain organisms which
could cause hepatitis and other gastrointestinal diseases.
The source of this microbial contamination can be diverse. It is possible
that, some of the contamiantion has come about as results of lack of
poor treatment of tap water from the GWCL or intrusion of sewage into
the water supply distribution system (Myjoyonline.com, 2008). It is also
possible that runoffs from farms and streets might have resulted in the
contamination in the situation where the producers uses well or ground
water as source water. It is also worth mentioning that, poor treatment
and handling methods employed by some of the producers could also
serve as source of contamination to both the sachet and bottled water
products (Smith-Asante, 2010).
Another issue to consider which might have had impact on the microbial
quality is the unhygienic handling of the products during handling at the
marketing and consumption phase. The young children who sell the
products in the streets are the victims of poverty from both the rural and
urban areas. It is this group of children who lack basic personal human
hygiene due to lack proper home care and good living standards. It is
therefore possible that some microbial contamination can occur as they
handle these sachet water products during their marketing activities.
(Obiri-Danso et al, 2003).
These results from this study therefore indicate a serious health risks
with its attendant economic implications to the inhabitants of the city
and the nation at large.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services,
the microbial content of bottled water can be improved by employing
distillation and reverse osmosis in the treatment process (New Jersey
Department of Health and Senior Services, 1997). This method could also be used by sachet manufacturers for treating their water products.
Physical Quality Tests
Separate methodologies were employed for analyzing the samples for the
various qualities. One each of the various sample types was taken for the
physical, cations and anion tests.
For the conductivity, the various samples were placed into small tubes
and heated until the sample temperatures rose to about 25oC each. The
conductivities of the samples were then obtained with a conductivity meter. The pH of each sample was also measured by the help of a pH meter
at a sample temperature of about 21oC.
In calculating for the alkalinity, about 50ml each of the six samples is titrated against 0.02M HCL down to pH of 5.4. The volume of the samples and the volumes of HCl used are presented in Table 6 in the appendix. The results for the pH test, Condictivity and alkalinity test are also
presented in Table 7.
Sample Calculations : Alkalinity-Fresh Cool
Concentration of Acid: 0.02M HCl
Volume used for titrating 50ml of sample: 1.420ml
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Table 7 Summary of physical quality test results.
Alkalinity in mM or mekv/L = 0.02 X 1.42 = 0.568 mM
Alkalinity, mg/l HCO3- = 0.568 x61 = 34.648 mg/l HCO3- ; mass of one
mole HCO3- = 61
Alkalinity, mg/l CaCO32- = 0.568 x 100/2 = 28.570 mg/l CaCO32-;
mass of one mole CaCO32- = 100
Source: http://www2.fiu.edu/~envstud/labs/waterlab3.htmv
Discussion of Physical Quality Test Results
The results from the physical quality parameters such as pH, Alkalinity
and conductivity are analysed and compared to international standards
such as WHO.
pH
The pH for all the samples six samples analyzed were within the range of
6,48 (Ice Cool) to 7.75 (Standard). Though the pH of a drinking has no
direct health affects, its level below and above certain limits could indirectly affect the quality of drinking water. The differences in the pH of
the various samples may be due to the characteristics of the source waters influenced by both natural and anthropogenic factors. Lack of the
presence of carbonate minerals such as calcium and magnesium could
cause lower pH values. Leakages from landfills to the drinking water
source can also lower the resultant pH of the treated water.
http://sauk.uwex.edu/cnred/documents/howtoreadtestsG3558_4.pdf .
Effluents from other anthropogenic factors such as mining, agriculture,
industries and acid precipitations can also alter the pH of the resultant
drinking water. Drinking waters with pH level lower than 7 are acidic
whereas those with values greater than 7 are basic. Levels with pH 7 are
neutral.
Acidic and basic drinking water can corrode pipes and subsequently release toxic metals into the drinking waters. This action could also have
some effect on the taste and color of the drinking water. According to
the Guidelines for Interpreting Drinking water Quality Data prepared by
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, 1998, British Columbia, lethal effects of pH levels could realized at values below 4.5 and above 9.5.
The normal pH range for most natural drinking waters is often from 6.5
to 8.5 (Resource Inventory Committee, 1998).
From the above analysis, it can be concluded that:
• Voltic bottled drinking water and Ice Cool sachet drinking
water are slightly acidic.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
• Fresh cool, Standard, Tik Tak and Bonaqua(Bottled) are slightly
basic
• Samples analyzed have pH values within the acceptable level and
hence poses no health risks to their consumers.
• The results also seems to confirm the fact that pH increases with
increase in alkalinity. This is shown in Fig. 1.
Alkalinity
The measure of the ability of water to neutralize acids is called its alkalinity. Alkalinity is therefore directly linked to the pH of the water which
means that the higher the pH the higher the alkalinity. Alkalinity results
are normally reported in mg/L of calcium carbonates and at times in the
equivalence of mg/L of Hydrogen carbonate. Alkalinity is caused by the
presence of carbonates, bicarbonates, borates, silicates and hydroxyl ions
in their free state. These compounds may originate from rocks and soils,
salts, certain plant activities and certain industrial waste water discharges
(Addy et al, 2004).
Alkalinity values provide guidance in applying the right amount of chemicals to the treatment of drinking and waste water (Srin, 2007). High alkalinity means the drinking water will have the ability to neutralize acidic
pollutions and hence keeps the water’s pH constant (Addy et al, 2004).
Notwithstanding, water with very high alkalinity are considered undesirable. This is because such waters may be excessively hard or may contain
high amounts of sodium chlorides (Ministry of Environment, Lands and
Parks, 1998).
Alkalinity has no health standards, however, concentrations between 30400 mg/l CaCO3 is preferred for domestic drinking water supply. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, water with an alkalinity less than 75mg/L CaCO3 could be susceptible to pH changes as
results of dissolved gases. This could corrode metal fittings and dissolve
the piping system as well (Illinois Department of Public Health, 2011).
The samples analyzed have alkalinity values in the range of 1.42 to 28.40.
Ice cool had the lowest alkalinity value of 1.42mg/L of CaCO3. This was
confirmed by lowest corresponding values for pH and conductivity as
shown in Table 7
Conclusions:
• The samples analyzed gave alkalinity results less than 30mg/L and
this make the samples more susceptible to pH changes which
could enhance corrosion.
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• In general, the pH was high for high alkalinity values and vice versa as shown in Fig. 7 (Illinois Department of Public Health,
2011).
Total Hardness
Total Hardness is the measure of the water’s ability to lather easily or
react with soap. It is as result of the presence of calcium and magnesium
ions in water. These ions come from dissolved limestone which originates from soil and rock mineral. (Mechenich & Andrews, 2010)
One method of measuring hardness of drinking water is by determining
the concentrations of hardness causing components mainly calcium and
magnesium. The hardness of the water is then calculated by expressing
the sum of the components in the equivalence of calcium carbonate.
Sample calculation is presented in Table 8.
Water of which the calcium carbonate concentration falls within 0 to
<60 mg/ is soft, 60 to <120 mg/L is medium hard, 120 to <180 mg/L
is hard and 180 mg/L and above is very hard (Health Canada, 1995).
Hard water is has been associated with some health benefits as results of
the presence of the mineral elements such calcium, magnesium among
other. However very high hard water may cause scales build-ups in pipes
and water heaters. It may also reduce the lathering ability of soap by
forming scum with soap (Mechenich & Andrews, 2010).
On the contrary, drinking water with hardness of less than 100mg/L has
a higher potential to corrode pipelines causing the release of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, copper and zinc in the already treated drinking water intended for consumption. The degree of dissolution of these
metals may also depend on factors such as alkalinity, pH and dissolved
oxygen concentration (WHO, 1996).
The calculated values for total hardness for the samples gave results
which shows that all the samples analyzed are soft water and hence have
the potential to corrode water pipe lines and contaminate drinking water
with heavy metals. Ice cool sachet water sample was extremely soft as it
gave value less than 1mg/L CaCO3. It was then followed by Bonaqua
bottled water with a Value of 2.31 mg/L CaCO3.Sample calculations:
Ratio of molar masses:
100, 1
= 40, 1 = 2, 5
mCa
100, 1
MCaCO3
= mMg = 24, 3 = 4, 1
` for Tik Tak,
MCaCO3
Hardness Due to Ca = 2, 62 # 2, 5
= 6, 55mg/ L CaCO3
Hardness Due to Mg = 1, 38mg/ L # 4, 1
= 5, 66mg/ L CaCO3
Total Hardness = 6, 55 + 5, 66 = 12.21mg/ L CaCO3
( Lenntech, 2009).
Conductivity
This is the measure of the ability of water to conduct an electrical current. It is reported in microsiemens per centimeter. Its value gives an indication of the amount of substances or inorganic minerals in the water
and the overall water quality state. It does not specify which ions are
present (Masarik, 2007).
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Conductivity tests also give an indication of the efficiency of a water
treatment process. For instance, water treated with reverse osmosis
process which is able to remove a majority of inorganic contaminants
normally has a conductivity range of between 1- 100μS/cm (Edstrom
Industries, 2003). The conductivities of the various samples are further
explained in relationship with the chloride ion concentrations of the various samples in subsequent section.
C HEMICAL Q UALITY T EST : A NIONS , C ATIONS AND H EAVY
M ETALS
Drinking water is made up both organic and inorganic constituents. Total dissolved Solid is used to refer to the amount of inorganic salts and
small amount of organic substance dissolved in water. (Health Canada
2009). According to the WHO report on Total dissolved solids in
Drinking-Water, the dominant constituents among the TDS are the dissolved inorganic major cations (Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+ and K+.) and anions
(HCO3-, Cl-, SO42- and NO3-). TDS concentrations below 1000mg/L
generally might be accepted by consumers though this may vary depending on specific circumstances (WHO, 2003).
The WHO further classifies a number of these ions as mineral elements
whose presence in water and human milk in the right quantity could contribute to the health needs of consumers (WHO, 2005). The WHO has
numerated about fourteen of such elements. These are Ca, P, Mg and F
responsible for building bones and membrane structures, Na, K and Cl
are responsible for electrolytic and water balance in the body; Zn, Cu, Se,
Mg, Mn, Mo are responsible for metabolic catalysis, Fe for oxygen binding and I, Cr for hormone functions (WHO, 2005). Table 9 gives a
summary of health based guideline values for some of these mineral elements in drinking water and milk.
The Chemical Test
The chemical tests involved the test for the various cations, anions and
certain trace metals of health concern which may be present in the water
samples. The ions which were tested for includes fluoride, chloride, nitrate, sulphate, ammonium, phosphate etc. Ammonium, nitrates and
phosphates were detected with help of an instrument called Aquatic
5400 Analyzer.
Analysis for fluorides, nitrates, sulphates and chlorides was also done
with an instrument called DX-120 ion Chromatography.The cations and
the heavy metals were air lifted to Canada for the analysis.
The quantities of the various ions and heavy metals present in the various samples are presented and discussed in the subsequent sections.
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Description of Results and Discussion
The occurrence of certain chemicals components in the form of their ionic or pure state are at times inevitable depending upon the geographical
location of raw water source, the activities carried out in the source water
catchment area and the treatment methods employed in the purification
process.
However, these chemical at certain levels may pose health benefits and
risks as well. They could also render drinking water undesirable. Some
levels of these chemicals could also cause scales or corrosion in the water
treatment system facilities. The section below discusses the ions and
metals identified in the water samples in relation to their WHO guideline
values.
Fluoride
The fluoride levels in all the samples analyzed were found to be about
0.1mg/L. This is below the WHO suggested guideline value in the range
of 0.5mg/l to 1.5mg/l. The USEPA has it in the range between 0.5mg/l
to 4mg/l. According to studies on the intake of fluoride into the body,
the amount ingested in drinking water is the significant contributor of
the total fluoride amount in the body when compares to exposure roots
such as diets, tooth paste, dry tea leaves etc. (AbuZeid & Hatow, n.d.).
Studies have shown that fluoride levels in certain amounts in drinking
water could have varying effects on the health status of the individual.
Table 10 gives a summary of the various fluoride concentrations in
drinking water and their effects on human health.This means that the
0.1mg/l level recorded for all the samples would not have any health effect on consumers of the samples analysed.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Chloride
Chloride ions are found in almost all natural waters. Their concentrations
vary according the mineral content of the soil in the catchment area of
the source water (Free Drinking Water.com, n.d.).
Chlorides may be released into drinking water sources from sewages and
industrial sources. Chloride ions can also contaminate groundwater when
it is used for de-icing. Chlorides concentrations are normally lower in
water from uplands and mountains but higher in ground and river water
sources. The major challenge associated with higher concentrations of
chlorides ions is its ability to increase the corrosion potential of water at
low alkalinities (WHO, 2007). According to The WHO, even though the
presence of chloride ions has no health based guideline value, higher
concentrations (of about 250mg/l) may give rise to detectable salty taste
which may be unpleasant to some consumers. Chloride ions can form
soluble salts with metal ions.
High chloride concentrations can thus increase metal levels in drinking
water. Chloride ions can also corrode the protective oxide layer resulting
in galvanic corrosion (WHO, 2003). These events could eventually affect
the colour and the taste of the treated water meant for consumption by
customers.
High chloride concentration can therefore affect the willingness of consumers of the treated tap water due to their effects on the change in colour and taste of drinking water. The increased metal concentrations in
drinking as results of high chloride ions can also pose cancer risks especially in the case of lead and other heavy metals.The acceptability of the
taste by consumers may depend on the form of chloride such as NaCl,
KCl and CaCl2 (WHO, 2007).
From Table 11, the highest chloride concentration (12.9) was recorded
for bottled water Bonaqua, and the lowest concentration of 0.1mg/l was
recorded for Ice Cool. This concentration range is far below the general
threshold taste concentration of about 250mg/l. These may therefore
not have much taste effect on the drinking water. The corrosion potential of the drinking water may also be minimized together with its attendant effects.
The results from the Table 11 also seem to confirm the effect of chloride
ion concentration on the conductivity of drinking water. From Table 11,
it is seen that Bonaqua and Tik Tak which have the highest conductivities also had the highest chloride ion concentration and the trend follows
for the other ions. Figure 12 reperesents the pictorial presentation of the
relationship between the chloride ion concentrations of the individual
samples and their corresponding conductivities.
Sulphates
Sulphate ions like chloride ions are found in almost all natural waters.
The major sources of sulphates in drinking water originate from the
oxidation of sulphite ores, the presence of shales or the industrial wastes.
Major quantity of it may be dissolved in rain water which eventually ends
up ground and surface waters (Lenntech, 2009).
Higher concentrations of sulphates in drinking water can results in dehydration and diarrhea on consumers which are not used to such quantities
especially when it is combined with calcium and magnesium. The effect
is pronounced in kids than in adults (Lenntech, 2009). According to
WHO in the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, Geneva, 1993, a
maximum level of 500mg/l of sulphate ions was suggested for drinking
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water. The EU in 1998 suggested a maximum level of 250mg/l in water
designated for human consumption (Lenntech, 2009).
The presence of sulphate minerals can cause scale build up in pipes and
also makes water taste bitter. Under certain conditions, sulphur reducing
bacteria transforms naturally occurring sulphates into hydrogen sulphides, which results in an offensive odor like that of a rotten smell in
the water (Skipton et al, 2010). The samples analyzed had sulphate concentrations within the range of 0.1 (Ice Cool) to 12.9 (Bonaqua) (Fig 13).
When compared to the international standards, the sulphate levels in the
samples are far below the levels which can result in the associated effects
described above. The samples analyzed therefore can be supposed to be
safe for drinking with respect to the sulphate concentrate. The sulphate
concentartions in the samples analysed are presented in Table 12.
Nitrates/Nitrites-Nitrogen
Nitrogen is an essential component of protein and is needed by all living
things. Nitrogen changes form as it moves through the nitrogen cycle. In
water it normally exists as nitrates or nitrites. Nitrogen in this form and
at certain concentrations in drinking water can result in nitrate poisoning
especially for infants and children (Skipton et al, 2008).
Nitrate-nitrogen is used to distinguish the various forms of nitrogen that
exist in drinking water. The others forms exist as ammonia-nitrogen, nitrite-nitrogen etc. Nitrate-nitrogen (NO-3), is the most common form of
reporting the concentration of nitrogen in drinking water (Free Drinking
Water.com, n.d.).
The major sources of nitrogen-nitrate into drinking water include influx
from agricultural run-offs, sanitary waste from human and animals and
sewage from industries and municipalities (New Hamisphere Department of Environmental Services, 2010).
Soil bacteria may also convert naturally occurring nitrogen from decaying
plants and animal residue into nitrates. Excess of such nitrates may be
leached to the ground water during rainfall or over-irrigation. The presence of nitrate in drinking water is difficult to detect since it is odorless,
colorless and tasteless (Skipton et al, 2008).
Disinfection of drinking water with chlorine and small amount of ammonia (chloramination) could also lead to the formation of nitrite in the
distribution system and concentration may increase as the water moves
through the system to consumption point.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Nitrification process in the distribution system can also lead to a rise in
the nitrite concentration by 0.2-1.5mg/l and sometimes by more than
3mg/l (WHO, 1998).
Higher levels of nitrogen-nitrates have acute health effects on both infants and the older peoples. Excessive levels of nitrogen in the form of
nitrates and nitrites can cause illnesses and deaths especially in infants
less than six years old (New Hamisphere Department of Environmental
Services, 2010).
This comes about as results of the conversion of ingested nitrates into
nitrites by bacteria in the digestive system. The nitrites then react with
iron in the hemoglobin of the red blood cells to form an oxygen deficient substance called methemoglobin which deprives the blood of its
ability to send sufficient oxygen to the body cells. This creates a condition called methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome) (Skipton et al,
2008).
Infants are at higher risk of contracting methemoglobinemia because
their digestive and enzyme systems are not fully developed for metabolizing the formed methemoglobin. Older person with malfunctioning gastrointestinal system may have a high bacteria activity which could facilitate the conversion of nitrates into nitrites enhancing the contraction of
the disease (Skipton et al, 2008).
As results of the acute health effects associated with the ingestion of the
compound, the USEPA has set The Maximum Contaminant Level
(MCL) of nitrates in public drinking water to be 10mg/l and 1.0mg/l for
nitrites (New Hamisphere Department of Environmental Services,
2010).
According to WHO, guideline values of 50mg/l for nitrates and 3mg/l
nitrites has been confirmed above which can result in methaemoglobinaemia in infants (WHO, 1998).
From the test results Table 13, while zero results were registered for the
sachet water samples, the bottled water samples showed significant concentrations of the nitrate ions. The highest concentration of 102,08mg/l
was recorded for The Bonaqua Bottled water brand followed by the Voltic water brand which contained 5,80mg/l of the ion. About 26,67mg/l
of the compound in the form of ammonia nitrate was recorded for
Bonaqua bottled water brand.
The relatively high NO3 ion contents in the bottled water samples as
compared to the sachet water brands which with no NO3 contents, may
be due to the fact that the raw water used in manufacturing the bottled
water might come from sources which may be susceptible to contaminations from anthropogenic sources such as the ones discussed above.
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The label on the Voltic water samples indicated that it is a natural mineral water and hence the presence of the NO3 ions is therefore not a surprise as mineral water generally has a moderate nitrate levels (Natural
Resources Defense Council, 1999).
The water source for the Bonaqua bottled water brand was not specified.
It was simply labeled as pure water. Notwithstanding, the highest
amount of NO3 which is above the WHO recommended guide value
was recorded. This does not make the Bonaqua samples analysed suitable for consumption by pregnant women, children below six month
years old and the elderly.
Phosphates
Phosphate is formed from phosphorus which is one of the key elements
needed for plant and animal life. Phosphate occurs in water in two main
forms: orthophosphate and polyphosphate. Orthophosphates are found
in sewages and are produced by natural processes such as decay. This is
the most useful form of phosphate needed by plants and animals for
growth. The polyphosphates are produced for treating boiler water. They
are found in many household detergents and soaps. This type of phosphate is transformed into orthophosphate and that is the form normally
present in water (Kotoski, 1997).
In some water treatment facilities, apart from the phosphates that accompany the water from source, additional phosphates are added to the
water during the treatment stages to reduce the corrosion of pipelines.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Studies conducted by Miettinen et al (1997) to ascertain the effects of inorganic compounds on Bacterial Growth in Drinking Water gave a result
which is in conflict with the above benefit of corrosion reduction. This is
because, it was proofed that bacterial growth in drinking water was not
only due to Assimilable Organic Carbon, but also the phosphate content
of the drinking water (Miettinen et al, 1997).
The absence of phosphate ions in the samples tested may imply that
there was no injection of phosphates into the drinking water during the
treatment stages. It could be supposed that the source water contained
no phosphate ions. These mean that though the drinking water could be
less susceptible to bacterial growth but high to corrosion. Health wise,
the compound is non-toxic to both animals and people unless they occur
in very high amounts. In such a situation it can results in digestive problems (Kotoski, 1997). The concentrations of phosphate for the individual
samples are presented in Table 13.
Calcium and Magnesium
Calcium (Ca) is the fifth most abundant element found in nature. It enters the surface and the ground water through to the treated drinking water as results of weathering of rocks. It is released from the soil through
seepage, leaching and runoff. Its concentration in drinking water may also increase when lime is used in the water treatment process. Its concentration is generally higher in ground water than in surface water (Health
Canada, 2008).
Magnesium is the eighth most abundant natural element making about
2.5% of the earth crust. Its presence in natural waters is as result of weathering ferromagnesian mineral igneous rocks and sedimentary rocks
made up of magnesium carbonates (Health Canada, 2009).
In the body, over 99% of calcium is found in the bones and the teeth. It
functions as the structural units for both the bones and the teeth (WHO,
2009). Magnesium is the fourth most abundant cation in the body and
second in the intracellular fluid (WHO, 2009).
The apparent benefits associated with calcium intake either through food
or drinking water is numerous. Calcium has the potential to block the
absorption of heavy metals hence reducing their toxicity levels.
Experiments has proofed that a low-calcium diet can increase the risk of
lead poisoning in rats. The incidence of colon and colorectal cancer may
be reduced by taking diet rich in calcium and drinking water high in calcium concentration (hard water) (Health Canada, 2008).
It is also responsible for serving as a signal for vital physiological process
such as vascular contraction, blood clotting, muscle contraction and
nerve transmission. Low intake of calcium has also been associated with
incidence of nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), hypertension and stroke, coronary artery disease, insulin resistance and obesity (WHO, 2009). In the
body, magnesium helps in the synthesis of protein and nucleic acid. It is
also necessary for normal vascular tone and insulin sensitivity
Health effects associated with its low availability in the body includes endothelial dysfunction, increased vascular reactions, elevated circulating
levels of creactive protein and decreased insulin sensitivity. Inadequate
magnesium in the body is also associated with hypertension, coronary
heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome (WHO
2009). The excess of it in drinking water has the potential to results in a
laxative effect especially with magnesium sulphate at concentrations
above 700mg/L. (Health Canada, 2009).
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Despite, the benefits associated with intake of calcium, for the mass of
the world population, it is a fact the diary intake of the mineral is below
what is required for healthy living. This is especially the case for most
children and all adults in developing countries. The same applies to most
of the adults in the developed world. This has resulted in a lot of calcium
deficient problems prevalent among them are incidence of rickets (structural deformation of growing bones) in children and osteoporosis (high
risk of bone fracture) in adults (WHO, 2009).
According to the results from epidemiological studies for the past 50
years, it has been proofed in many countries worldwide that soft water
(water low in calcium and magnesium) is linked to increased morbidity
and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) than compared to hard
water and water rich in magnesium (WHO, 2005).
The WHO has no guideline values for calcium and magnesium levels in
drinking waters. However, research from many authors stipulates that
drinking water with minimum levels of about 20 to 30 mg/L calcium and
10mg/L of magnesium may help reduce cardiovascular mortality rates
and provide other health benefits (WHO, 2005).
In the context of Ghana’s situation and Accra especially, research conducted by Rossiter et al (2010) on the water quality analysis of water
from improved sources across the various regions in the country, was
shown that third percentile of the samples had concentration below
15mg/L for Magnesium and 40mg/L for Calcium. This shows the water
in Ghana is generally soft (Rossiter et al, 2010).
This was also confirmed in this study in which the highest concentrations recorded were 7.83mg/L and 7.56 mg/L of Ca for Fresh Cool and
one bottled water respectively. The lowest was 0.19mg/L of Ca for Ice
Cool. For Magnesium, the highest concentration (3,58mg/L) was recorded for Voltic (bottled water sample). It was followed by Fresh cool
(2,65mg/L). The second lowest calcium and magnesium concentrations
(35 and 35mg/L respectively) was recorded for a Bonaqua bottled water
sample.
These results raises doubt as to whether the benefits associated with the
consumption of hard water would be realized by the consumers of these
water products looking at the low calcium and magnesium concentrations of the water samples as compared by concentrations recommended
by researchers to give health benefits.
It is also worth mentioning here these two ions are strongly related to
water hardness as explained before. Their concentrations were used in
calculating the total hardness of the various water samples.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Sodium and Potassium
Sodium constitutes 2.6% of the earth’s crust. It is the most abundant alkali metal found in nature (Health Canada, 2009). Its presence in public
water supplies is due to sea intrusions, weathering of minerals deposits,
sewage effluents, and salt used in de-icing road and snow control. Water
treatment chemicals such as sodium fluoride, sodium bicarbonate, and
sodium hypochlorite may also increase sodium levels to about 30mg/L.
Water softeners can also raise levels to over 300mg/L (WHO, 2003).
Potassium is not commonly found in drinking water; and if it does occurs, its concentration is usually below levels which may raise health
concerns. It occurs naturally in the environment and all natural waters.
The presence of potassium in drinking water may also be mainly due to
the use of potassium permanganate as an oxidant during a water treatment process. It may also be released into drinking water during water
softening processes when it is used to replace calcium or magnesium
ions (WHO, 2009).
Potassium is needed in the body to aid important cell functions such as
metabolism, growth, repair and volume regulation and maintains the
electric properties of the cells. Its adverse effect as results of exposure to
drinking water is unlikely to occur in a normal healthy individual. The
presence of a higher potassium concentration in the body results in a
condition called hyperkalemia. More often than not, this condition does
not results in any serious health effects since excess potassium is readily
excreted provided the kidney is undamaged and works as demanded
(Health Canada, 2009).
However higher levels of potassium in drinking water as results of the
use of potassium chloride as a water softener could results in hyperkalemia in an individual with damaged or weak kidney or on medications
that has the potential to cause hyperkalemia. Such individuals should
avoid drinking water softened with potassium chloride (Health Canada
2009). Higher dosage of Potassium salts is also associated with chest
tightness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath and heart
failure (WHO, 2009). Based on research results, potassium daily supplement of about 3700mg/L may not results in any adverse effects (WHO
2003).
Similarly to potassium, a toxicity of excess sodium may results in immature kidneys (especially for infants) or diseased kidneys which may not be
able to excrete salts with efficiency as a normal functioning kidney. Under such circumstances, death or acute effects such as nausea, vomiting,
convulsions, muscular twitching and rigidity, and cerebral and pulmonary
oedema may occur. High doses in infants with gastrointestinal infections
may suffer from fluid loss, which may results in dehydration and an increased plasma sodium concentration (hypernatraemia). More often,
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permanent neurological damage may occur under such conditions
(WHO, 2003).
In the case of sodium, high levels of sodium intake have been strongly
linked to be a potential cause of hypertension although a lot of controversies still exist in this assertion. Though the assertion has been proven
through laboratory experiments with animals, (WHO, 2003) its effect on
humans has produced mixed results.
People in Western Europe and North America who consume high quantity of salt diet from infancy does not suffer from hypertension supposed. Therefore, there is no exact conclusion linking the occurrence of
the metal ion in drinking water to hypertension; as such no health base
guideline has been suggested. Notwithstanding, the taste of drinking water with levels above 200mg/L may not be desirable by consumers
(WHO, 2003).
Sodium and chloride ions have been found to be the dominating ions in
the analysis of the various water samples. Though their levels are far below the recommended and suggested guideline values their presence is
very significant when compared to concentrations of other ions obtained
in this study. This was confirmed in the report by Rossiter et al (2010), in
which it was cited that about 75% of the boreholes analyzed in the Accra
plains area were brackish with very high sodium and chloride concentrations. (Rossiter et al, 2010) This could be as results of intrusion from the
sea since Accra lies close to the sea.
It has been reported that, the Head of water quality at GWCL/AVRL
has confirmed, the company provides drinking water whose salt concentration is two times higher than the recommended level. The report also
by the Medical director of the regional hospital about the 70% increase
in strokes, hypertension and heart problems, which have been linked to
high salt content in the body calls for further research (Will, 2010).
Table 14 and the Fig 14 and 15 give the concentration and graphical representation respectively of the various cations discussed so far in this
studies.
Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are classified as chemical elements with a specific gravity
of not less than 5 relative to that of water at 4oC. There are about 35
known metals that are of residential and occupational importance to life.
Out of these, there are about 23 known to be heavy metals and are toxic.
These are antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, cerium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, gold, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, platinum, silver, tellurium, thallium, tin, uranium, vanadium, and zinc (LifeExtension, 2011).
Some common routes of exposure to heavy metals are through food,
water, air, absorption through the skin (due to contacts in agricultural,
industrial pharmaceutical or residential settings) (LifeExtension, 2011).
Heavy metals may be released into the environment and for that matter
water through anthropogenic activities and by natural process. Some
anthropogenic means includes (air emissions from coal burning plants,
smelters, and other industrial activities), waste incinerators, and waste
from mining and industrial processes. Lead may be also be released into
the environment (or water) due to their presence in household plumbing
and old house paints. (Free Drinking Water.com, n.d).
It is also known that a significant quantity of the heavy metals such as
lead, copper, cadmium, zinc, iron and manganese present in drinking water are as results of corrosion of pipes, valves and fittings. This is
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
because some of these heavy metals are used as raw materials for building up the water distribution system. (Shahmansouri et al, 2003).
Through natural processes, naturally occurring arsenic may be released
into ground water at levels which may render the water unsafe for drinking. A particular example is the situation in Bangladesh, putting about
70million people at the risk of arsenic contamination (International
Atomic Energy Agency, 2011).
In lesser concentrations, some of these heavy metals are essential to life.
Examples are iron, copper manganese and zinc. Some quantity of these
elements may be found in natural foodstuffs, fruits and vegetables. Some
are manufactured into drugs as multivitamin products in commercial
quantities. Some are used in medical applications such as direct injection
of gallium in radiological operations, chromium dosage in parenteral nutrition mixtures. Lead may also be used as a radiation shield around x-ray
equipment. In industries, some heavy metals are used in the manufacture
of pesticides, batteries, alloys, electroplated metal parts, textile dyes,
steels etc. (LifeExtension, 2011).
Despite the above benefits, heavy metals may become toxic when they
get into the body at their fatal concentrations. In such instances, they are
not metabolized and get accumulated in the soft body tissues (LifeExtension, 201).
Some health effects associated with the accumulation of heavy metals in
the body includes reduced growth and development, cancer, organ damage, nervous system damage and at times death. Exposure to high levels
of mercury and lead may lead to joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and diseases associated with the kidneys, circulatory and the nervous
system. Exposure to heavy metals at infants stages in children can results
in memory impairment, nervous system damage, learning difficulties, and
behavioural abnormalities such aggressiveness and hyperactivity. They
can damage the brains permanently at very high doses (FreeDrinking
Water.com, n.d.).
Among the 23 heavy metals mostly encountered in everyday life, four of
them are listed on the list of The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in Atlanta, Georgia and are also part of the first
20 on the list. In all there about 275 hazardous substances on the list according to the 2007 list released. These ones are listed below with their
place on the list written against them: Arsenic (1), Lead (2), Mercury (3),
Cadmium (7). (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2009)
Table 15 shows the summary of some selected metals: source, WHO
standards, and effects on humans.
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Discussion of Results for Heavy Metals
From Table15, it is clear that all the sachet water and two bottled water
samples contain some quantity of metals though they are below the
WHO recommended and provisional guidelines values.
The levels of mercury and cadmium recorded in all the samples were below 0.05µg/L and 0.1µg/L respectively. The concentrations of chromium and selenium were also below 0.05µg/L for all the samples analyzed.
On the other hand, there were variations in concentrations of dissolved
metals for most of the samples. For instance, in the case of arsenic, two
sachet water and two of the bottled water all had their concentrations below 0.5µg/L. However, the concentrations were different for the remaining two sachet water brands. Fresh Cool and Standard sachet water contained 0.9µg/L and 0.8 µg/L of arsenic respectively. The presence of
arsenic in the samples is an indication that the packaged water might
have come from ground water sources which contains some quantity of
arsenic especially in the case of Fresh Cool and Standard.
Significant lead concentration was also recorded for all the samples.
Fresh cool sachet water recorded 1.3 µg/L of lead which was the highest
lead concentration recorded.
The lead concentrations for the all the sachet water were relatively higher
when compared to the bottled water samples which contained the lowest
concentration of 0.2 µg/L each. The relative higher lead quantity in the
samples though they were below the WHO guideline value may be due
to several factors. It is possible that the presence of lead in the samples
may be as result of leaching from lead solders, lead pipes or lead service
connections. This is more pronounced in old and new pipe lines. The
lead concentration also increases for drinking water which stands in
pipes for relatively longer periods. The bottled and sachet water all had
their heavy metal concentrations lower than or equal to most of the sachet water samples except in the case of barium, antimony and aluminium where the metal concentrations are relatively higher in the bottled
water samples than in some sachet water samples.
Fresh Cool sachet water appears to contain the highest concentration of
each metal in situations where there are variations in the metal concentrations for the various samples. This is only different in the case of
Aluminium in which the highest concentration recorded was for Voltic
bottled water sample and also for zinc where relatively high values of the
metal concentration were recorded.
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
The effects of pH, alkalinity and total hardness which could affect the
presence of heavy metals in drinking water could not be clearly substantiated for all the samples (Fig. 16). Ice Cool conformed to the trend in
which lower pH, total hardness, and alkalinity reflected in a high lead
concentration. Fresh Cool which had the higher lead concentration did
not have a corresponding lowest pH, total hardness and alkalinity as
would have been expected. This explains that the presence of lead in the
samples could also be as results of the sources water apart from the factors already discussed above.
The concentration for lead and for that matter other metals are relatively
lower in the bottled water samples because it can be assumed that the
producers of such products have used an effective water treatment mechanisms since they are well established companies.
H EALTH , S OC IO - ECONOMIC AND E NVIRONMENTAL
I MPLICATIONS OF S ACHET W ATER
The whole life cycle of the sachet water product from the production
stage to the marketing, consumption and disposal stages pose a threat to
the social, environmental and health status of consumers and the society
at large. This is because in Ghana there have not been clear-cut policies
to regulate the activities of the sachet water industry. This could render
the whole product unsustainable.
On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that, the influx of the sachet
water products into the market could have some socio-economic benefits for sections of the population and also contribute to the country’s
goal of achieving the MDGs target as it helps to provide ready access to
drinking water for major part of the Ghanaian population.
Unfortunately, these benefits have come with a corresponding public
outcry on the waste caused by the empty sachet water plastic bags littered in the cities of Accra and other cities nationwide after consumption
of the product. Recent research studies on the quality of the sachet water products on the Ghanaian market have also produced results, which
suggest that the products are of doubtful quality and could have some
health implications for consumers.
These studies are conducted in order to ascertain and confirm the health,
environmental and socio-economic impacts of the sachet water products
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sold on the Ghanaian market as has already been published in some literatures.
Health Implications
This report seems to confirm the doubtful microbial quality of some sachet water sold in Ghana. The result also shows that some bottled water
sold are also of doubtful microbial quality as shown in this study. This
place the perception of the acclaimed better microbial quality of bottled
drinking water in doubt as well.
In the case of the bottled water, the results from this study also confirm
the results from The Microbiology Department of the University of
Ghana in which the results from the microbial quality test on some of
them produced a very “worrying” result according to the Head of the
Department Dr Patrick Ayeh-Kumi (Peacefmonline.com 2010). This
means that all sections of the population (poor, middle income and high
income earners) are at the risk of microbial infections as results of drinking sachet or bottled water.
The health effects associated with the sachet and bottled water with respect to their chemical quality from the results of this study is not that
worrisome. This is because almost all of the chemicals identified in the
analysis which are known to be to harmful to human health were all below the WHO guideline values. An exception was with the Bonaqua water sample which recorded a very high concentration of nitrate ions.
However, the mere presence of heavy metals in most of the samples calls
for concern. This is because of the bioaccumulation and the magnification properties of the heavy metals. It is proven fact that once these metals are in the body, they can build up in tissue up to their toxic levels. For
the short term, these metals may not be harmful especially since they
were below the WHO guideline values, but exposure over long period of
time through other sources in addition to drinking water sources could
results in some negative health effects.
In the case of the cations and anions, they hardly build up in the body as
most of them are excreted by the kidney in the urine as in the case of
calcium. Therefore the probability that they may build up to their toxic
levels are unlikely. They may become toxic only when they are ingested
at very high concentrations (Health Canada, 2008).
On the contrary, consumers of the samples analyzed may rather be deprived of the benefits associated with the recommended levels of these
ions in drinking water since almost all of the samples had very low concentrations of the ions.
Socio-Economic Implications
In Ghana, the sale of sachet water has become one of the most common
jobs for hundreds to thousands of young men and woman. At the production sites, it also provides jobs for several thousands (Daily Guide,
2010).
Though the sachet water business serves as a source of employment, the
nature of employment it provides has been worrisome as results of the
class of people engaged in the sales of the product. It is that, the hawkers
engaged in the sales of the sachet water products are children of ten and
below. Most of these children drop out from school to engage in this
business to earn money either for their personal upkeep or for their respective families.
It is also a source of income for mostly women through which they are
able to earn something to cater for the whole family. On the average,
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Table 16 Questionnaire for assessing the socio-economic impact of
sachet water products.
from the analysis of the questionnaire (Table 16) sampled from some six
sachet water sellers in commercial centre of Accra (popularly known as
Circle), the money made per day from the sales of the sachet water
sellers is within the range of twenty Ghana Pesewas to one Ghana cedis
thirty pesewas (20GHp-1.3GH¢) which corresponds to about ($0.13US$0.87US). Details of the questionnaire are presented in Table 16.0. This
amount though small as it is, it serves as a means by which the most of
the poor sections of the population survive.
The problem that stems from the sales of the sachet products centres on
the issue of under-aged school going children, who opt to engage in the
business to the disadvantage of their education.
One other problem is the risk of been knocked by cars since these young
children run after cars and cross the roads randomly to chase for customers or to take their money from buyers. They also become victims of
rape and arm robbery through the sales of the products (Ghana News
Agency, 2005).
Environmental Implications
One other nagging issue about the sachet water business has been the
management of the empty plastic bags after consumption. The management of this problem has turned out to pose major concern to the government, who bears the cost of handling this plastic waste. The sachet
water manufacturing companies, who make profit from the business
looks unconcern whiles the government battles with the menace. It is reported that, out of the about 270 tonnes of plastic waste generated each
day in the Accra, plastic satchet water bags account for about 85% of
that waste. In 2004, the Government devoted about 1.5 million U.S dollars to fight the menace (Atorseh II, 2005).
The empty plastic sachet bags contribute immensely to the poor sanitation situation which has been of the major social problem of the Ghanaian Government. The frequent incidences of communicable diseases
such as cholera, malaria are strongly linked to the impacts of plastic
waste which comes from the consumption of the sachet water products.
The empty plastic bags collects water which acts as bleeding grounds for
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TRITA LWR Degree Project 11:12
mosquitoes resulting in the spread of malaria. Some of the empty sachet
plastic bags are carried by run-offs and ends up on the beaches making
them unattractive to tourists (The Statesmen 2008).
Apart from poor sanitation, and impaired aesthetic view, the empty sachet water bags in the streets has also been one of the major cause of the
seasonal flooding that hits the city every rainy season. This is because
these empty bags choke the sewage systems and forces rain water to divert off their normal course to homes, shops. Annually, this results in
loss of lives and destruction of millions of properties (Science in Africa,
2004).
Apart from the cost the government incurs for cleaning this plastic waste
from the streets of Accra, the Government has also come up with other
alternatives which require the manufacturers of the sachet water products to be one of the main stake-holders. In one situation, the government decided to impose 20% valorem tax on the product as a way of
generating funds to manage the waste from the consumption of the
products. This action has virtually been dropped by the government as
there was a lot of opposition from the sachet water producers and the
consumers of the products. This was because the producers decided to
transfer part of the cost to consumers of the products, a situation which
will results in an increase of the commodity (Myjoyonline.com, 2010).
On some occasions, the government has taken a hard stance and decided
to place ban on the sales of the sachet water products if the manufacturers fails to cooperate with the city authorities in finding solutions to the
plastic waste from their activities (Ghanaweb, 2007).
The most pro-active NGO on water and sanitation, CONIWAS, has also
advocated for a ban on the thin plastic used for making the sachet water
products. In their view, the production, consumption and disposal stage
of the sachet water products are deemed unsustainable. This is because,
they claimed the money used by the government in managing the sachet
water waste after consumption far outweighs the employment benefits it
creates. The situation becomes gloomier when the poor microbial quality
and their attendant health effects are considered (NGO News Africa,
2010).
As results of the mounting pressures on the sachet water producers to
find a sustainable means of dealing with their plastic waste, the National
Association of Sachet Water Producers has at one instance proposed a
biodegradable plastic to replace the current non-biodegradable plastic
packaging material. This may contribute immensely in solving the major
part of the negative environmental effects associated with the life cycle
of the product (Myjoyonline.com, 2010).
C ONCLUSIONS AND R ECOMMENDATIONS
The analysis of data from the literature as well as the the laboratory analysis of the samples examined in this pilot study lead to these conclusions
and recommendations
Conclusions
From the analysis of the results of this study and other literature, it can
be concluded that the recent management of the sachet water business in
Ghana is unsustainable. The impact on the environment, the potential
negative health effects and their socio-economic impact on the street
children who normally engage in the sales of the products are issues of
major concern.
56
Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
This study has confirmed the doubtful microbial quality of most of the
sachet water products sold on the Ghanaian market. The research also
showed the presence of some heavy metals in almost all the samples
whose long term effect on human health cannot be underestimated
though their values were below the WHO guidelines values.
It has also been found that, the children who engage in the trade business could be victims to rape, arm robbery, car accidents, and dropping
out of school. All these effect when considered in totality far outweighs
the benefits it brings to manufacturers, the employees, the hawkers and
the nation at large.
Recommendations
• This study would not advocate for complete ban of the activities
of sachet water operators as has been already suggested by some
NGOs, individuals and sections of the media.
• One sustainable way of approaching the problem is through the
improvement of urban water supply system. The government
must dedicate more investment capital into the water supply sector especially in the urban centers. People will begin to develop
taste for the tap water in the city when the Quantitative Service
Indicators of water supply such as quality, demand and supply,
availability and accessibility are improved and made affordable.
The GWCL should also come out with public awareness strategies to win public trust towards the quality of the water they
produce.
• To minimize the socio-economic impacts especially on under age
school going children, both the Government and the sachet water producers must come out formalized marketing strategies
which would prevent luring young children into the sachet water
business to the disadvantage of their education and general well
being.
• To minimize the environmental pollution from the empty plastic
sachets, fixed sales point must be created at the commercial centers. By this consumers of the products will have to leave the
empty sachet bags at such points. In this the plastic waste will be
more organize and easy to mange. Indiscriminate street hawking
of the product is major contributor of the environmental pollution associated with the consumption of the products. This will
also spare the children who engage in the business from unfortunate situations such as rape, arm robbery, car accidents.
• Aside the GSB and GFDBs it would be prudent if a special agency
is created to monitor the activities of the sachet water producers
from the production stage to the end of life of the product. This
is because, it seems the duplications of responsibilities by the
GSB and GFDB and already with regards to the certifications
and regulation does not help in monitoring the product quality.
The already numerous regulatory and certification responsibilities of the two agencies might have been one of the cause of
their inability to regulate the product quality and the activities of
the thousands of the sachet water companies operating in the
city and the country at large.
• For the short term solution, it is recommended that the Government in collaboration with the waste management companies in
the country especially in the capital devise programmes for the
57
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TRITA LWR Degree Project 11:12
collection and recycling of the empty sachet bags already on the
market
• The use of biodegradable plastics for packaging the sachet water
products should also be considered.
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A PPENDIX
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Table 2 Water sector institutions in Ghanan Source: National Water
Policy, 2007.
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Felix Diawuo
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
Table 4 Treament methods with their corresponding by-products,
health effects, and their advantages and disadvantages (Continued).
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Water Supply of Accra, with Emphasis on Sachet Water
70
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