Ground water remains one of the most important sources of water supply in rural communities and small towns in Ghana.
Currently, over 95% of water provided to small communities and towns for domestic use is extracted for groundwater source. However, the occurrence of high levels of minerals including metal compounds, especially iron and Manganese in most of these groundwater sources has been identified as a challenge limiting the extent to which this resource can be exploited.
Drilling records have revealed that on the average, about 20% of boreholes drilled for domestic water supplies contain high concentrations of Manganese or iron, or both metal compounds above the Ghana Standards Board permissible limits of 0-0.1 mg/1 (Manganese) and 0-0.3mg/1 (iron) for domestic water supply in some regions in the country including Eastern, Greater Accra, Central, Northern, Ashanti, Volta and Western. Low PH (Water Acidity) levels are also associated with groundwater in most of the geological formations in these regions.
Manganese and iron occur naturally in most of the geological formations in Ghana. In the Eastern Region for instance, the Togo Series, Voltaian and Birimian formations are noted for high levels of iron and Manganese. Up to 41.5mg/1 of iron and about 10.0mg/1 of Manganese levels were detected in some boreholes. Drilling reports also indicated that water quality of drilled wells have varied over severe cases water table fluctuation, weathering and geothermal changes in the geological formations are considered as major factors.
Research further shows that about 40% of drilled wells high iron or Manganese levels have been abandoned by user communities whiles about 60% are used only marginally for purposes other tan drinking, cooking and laundry. This places 20% or more of our investment in groundwater exploitation for water supply to small communities under threat of being wasted. This translates approximately to between $600-$900 lost of resources on every borehole drilled in the affected regions in Ghana.
As part of the efforts of the Agency to ensure that water supply to living in rural communities and small towns is potable, the MWACAFE Iron Removal Plant was designed and developed by Mr. Worlanyo Kwadjo Siabi, the Eastern Regional Water and Sanitation Engineer of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency. This new treatment technique is based on adsorption properties of granular activated Carbon, applied as filter material material under oxygen supply. Following successful trial of MWACAFE on some boreholes, a concept paper on water treatment using adsorption properties of carbon and performance of MWACAFE was published on the Ghana Web site in 2003. Thereafter three papers were presented on the subject at WEDC Conferences in Nigeria -2003 and Laos PDR-2004, and also at the World Water Congress in Morocco-2004.
The Plant uses charcoal in particular as Carbon source because it is readily available and universally acceptable even for application in tradition medicine, unlike carbon prepared especially from animal bones, which may be rejected based on tradition and cultural beliefs. The water treatment processes applied in the design are completely different from those previously thought of. The new technique and processes ensures ease of operation and sustainability.
In 2006 when the maid edition of the President’s Excellence Award was launched, CWSA presented the MWACAFE plant and it has been adjudged that best in the innovative services category, winning the Agency a Gold Award.