Concord Times (Freetown)

13 June 2006

Sierra Leone: As Freetown Continues to Be Deforested: Guma Valley to Run Out of Water

Freetown — General Manager of Guma Valley Water Company, Darrell Thompson Monday confirmed that with the massive deforestation and construction around the river catchments in the Freetown area, the water supply to the city would run out in the future.

He said the continuous deforestation and erection of illegal structures in the Freetown area has become alarming and life threatening for people living in the city.

"We supply water from the Guma dam and from other sources in the west and east of Freetown," Thompson disclosed and added that the Guma dam alone cannot supply the city, therefore it is augmented by the smaller catchments at Hill station, Thunder Hill and at the Foot of Fourah Bay College.

The General Manager revealed that serious damage has been caused to these catchments hence they decided to close down three of these water sources as a result of construction and deforestation.

"The problem is more acute at Hill Station as the catchment that used to supply is no more, as such we are now pumping water from Spur Road," he states and continued that Thunder Hill in the east is almost getting destroyed as it is being used for laundry that has polluted and defecated the water, blocked the pipes and brings debris into the water.

Thompson pointed out the problem is acute and growing because the population in the city is increasing therefore a method should be put in place to protect the catchments before they are destroyed.

"When you take off the trees and the forest cover that serves as a shade to prevent rapid evaporation from the soil the water continues to sip into the river destroying the water sources," Thompson stated and noted that the relevant authorities must be proactive and that there is also need for the Ministry of Lands and Country Planning to consult with the water suppliers before they give out land for construction, so that they don't encroach on catchments' areas.

He concluded that this ugly development in the city is paving the way for Freetown to run out of water in the future and stressed that people living around these catchments should be discouraged from doing so.

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