The Impact of Small Scale Gold Mining Activities on the Water Quality of River Birim in the Kibi Traditional Area

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The study of the impact of small scale gold mining activities on the water quality of river Birim in the Kibi Traditional Area was carried out at the four sampling sites along the river profile. Water and sediment samples of the River were analyzed for various parameters and compared with Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (GEPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) permissible guidelines for drinking water. The water quality parameters included pH, Electrical Conductivity (EC), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Dissolved Oxygen (DO) and True Colour. Metals (such as Arsenic, Copper, Cadmium, Lead, Nickel, Iron and Mercury) in the water samples and the river sediments were determined using atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS) using AAS 220 model. The result of the study revealed that, the mean values for true colour and total suspended solids of the river water at the various sampling sites exceeded GEPA permissible level for drinking water. However, dissolved oxygen, pH, total dissolved solid and electrical conductivity were below acceptable levels. The concentrations of heavy metals, mainly Arsenic, Iron and mercury recorded in the River water and sediments were also above GEPA and WHO standards, rendering the water unsafe for domestic use. The study revealed that Small Scale Mining activities in the area have impacted on the water quality of River Birim considering the higher levels of True colour, Total Suspended Solids, Iron, Arsenic and Mercury which exceeded the GEPA and WHO levels.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Environmental Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the Award of the Master Of Science Degree in Environmental Science,