A review of the ecohydrology of the Sakumo wetland in Ghana
The Sakumo wetland is an internationally recognized Ramsar site located in a largely urban area and provides essential ecological and social services to wetland community dwellers. Despite its importance, the wetland has over the years been subjected to human interference resulting in considerable risks of deteriorating water quality, biodiversity loss, and drying up of most parts of the wetland. The conversion of land for residential and agricultural uses has significantly altered the hydrological characteristics of the land surface and modified pathways and flow of water into the wetland. Other drivers identified included drainage (mainly as runoff from agricultural farms), anthropogenic pressure (waste discharge) due to infrastructure development associated with urbanization, chemical contamination as a result of industrial and household pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices (overfishing). The purpose of the study was to review some of the physical and chemical properties of the Sakumo wetland on the changing wetland resources with emphasis on water quality. Rapid urbanization, industrialization, and overexploitation of wetland resources were identified as key causative factors affecting the wetland functions. Their effects on the wetland among others include increased nutrient and toxic chemical load which has resulted in reduced wetland surface water quality and decrease in species diversity. pH of the wetland waters was generally alkaline which is characteristic of water bodies influenced by seawater under oxygenated conditions. The increasing trends of electrical conductivity, phosphates, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite, though small, point to deteriorating water quality in the wetland. The lagoon water was observed to be heavily polluted with nutrients particularly phosphate. The sequence of nutrient in the wetland was found to be in the order of PO4-P >NH3-N > NO3-N > NO2-N. These, if not checked, will result in further deterioration of the wetland function. In order to protect the wetland structure and function, it is recommended that a determination for both surface water and groundwater (quality and quantity) components of the ecological reserve (aquatic ecosystem) as well as the basic human need should be undertaken. In addition, a complete hydrological study of the wetland must be done. This will enable a well-balanced water allocation scheme to all users while still ensuring long-term survival and sustainability of the wetland.