Four persons have been arrested for putting up an unauthorised building in the catchment area of the Barekese Dam, near Kumasi.
The identities of the four are being withheld by the police for security reasons.
On a visit to Nkwantakese where a tributary of the River Offin leads to the Barekese dam, it was found that illegal mining activities, popularly called galamsey, had been going on.
Even though there was no one around at the time of the visit, equipment used in the work were seen lying about.
Because of the activities of illegal mining, the colour of the Offin river has become muddied.
It was also found that large tracts of land had been depleted of their forest cover through farming activities and illegal felling of trees. The GWCL had previously reforested lands adjoining the river and had planted more than 2000 trees.
Interacting with the media following the visit, Dr Agyemang-Mensah expressed his concern over the rate at which the buffer areas of the Barekese and Owabi dams had been degraded.
He said it was the responsibility of all to ensure that “the catchment areas of the dams are protected”.
He stressed that displaying lukewarm attitude towards such a precious resource could have serious implication on the health of the people since water was essential for the sustenance of life.
Dr Agyemang-Mensah called on traditional rulers, the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC), the district security councils of Atwima-Nwabiagya and Afigya Kwabre and the Ashanti Regional office of the GWCL and other stakeholders to come up with strategies to find lasting solutions to the problem.
He further urged the GWCL branch office in the Ashanti Region to prosecute anyone caught encroaching on the Barekese and Owabi dams to serve as a deterrent to others who harboured similar intentions.
The Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing was accompanied on the visit by Mr Ben Ampoma, Executive Secretary,Water Resources Commission; Alhaji Ziblin, Chief Director , Ministry of Water Resources, Works & Housing; Mr Francis Kwesi Awotwe, Chief Manager of Production of the GWCL in the Ashanti Region and personnel from the media.