They can still be saved - DENR: 4 rivers, coasts problem zones
Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Freeman) - October 9, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - While there are rivers and coastal areas in Cebu that may seem like “dead zones,” there is actually still hope for some of them to be revived.

This is according to engineer Cindylyn Pepito, chief of the Ambient Quality Monitoring Section of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau-7, who said even those rivers and coastal waters in Cebu which had not passed the water quality status can still be rehabilitated.

Pepito presented the results of the 2014 Water Quality Status Report of the DENR-EMB during yesterday’s forum on improving water quality through waste water management conducted by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.

Pepito said they have assessed the water quality of the four rivers (Butuanon, Guadalupe, Luyang and Sapangdaku) and three coastal areas in Cebu City (Hilutungan, Liloan and Consolacion) last year.

The 23-kilometer Butuanon River in Mandaue City, wherein the upstream is in Cebu City, was found to be densely populated and is densely degraded in terms of water quality.

“This is alarming because these are the areas that are highly industrialized. There are a lot of manufacturing tanks in this area and a lot of households. There is a three-water easement. They do not reside in the easement because it is prohibited by law. They reside on the river itself,” Pepito said.

In terms of the beneficial use of fresh surface waters, the Butuanon River is classified into Class D in which waters are used for agriculture, irrigation, livestock watering; and industrial water supply class among others.

“We are trying to change that because of its declaration as a water quality management area,” she said.

The Guadalupe River in Cebu City is considered as Class B for upstream in which its upstream waters can be used for primary contact recreation such as bathing, swimming, and skin diving. It is also classified as Class C for its water quality in its downstream river.

Luyang River in Carmen town and Sapangdaku River in Toledo City are classified as Class A for upstream in which its waters can be used for sources of water supply with complete treatment and as Class C for downstream in which its waters are beneficial for the propagation and growth of fish and other aquatic resources, recreational purposes such as boating activities, and industrial water supply for manufacturing processes after treatment.

For coastal and marine waters, the Hilutungan Channel along Mactan East Coast was assessed to be Class SB in which its waters can be used for recreational purposes such as for bathing and swimming and for fisheries such as for spawning bangus and similar species.

Pepito said that in its beach watch monitoring report, the Hilutungan Channel which is the tourism area for metro Cebu has exceeded the standard levels of total and fecal coliform such as those coming from actual human waste and kitchen waste.

She clarified that while resort owners and other companies even invest in waste water treatment facility, water wastes in the coastal areas can be also attributed to the informal settlers living and motor bancas being parked along the coasts.

The Liloan coastal waters, on the other hand, are unclassified. She said that the level of fecal coliform in Liloan waters is also alarming taking into account human waste and animal waste.

Cansaga Bay in Consolacion town is classified to Class SC in which its waters can be utilized for recreational purposes such as boating activities, commercial and sustenance fishing, and as marshy or mangrove areas declared as fish and wildlife sanctuaries.

Pepito said that despite the results of their report, it is best to acknowledge that none of the rivers and coastal waters has failed in terms of water quality.

“Let’s look at the brighter side. There are other areas that have passed the standards so it is possible for those areas that have not passed the standards to be revived,” she said.

She said those bodies of water that did not meet the standards need to be rehabilitated.

“Nagkaproblema ta diri kay hinay na kaayo ang flow sa tubig. Most of the water flowing downstream are waste water already,” she said.

Pepito then encouraged the public to be disciplined enough in disposing their wastes and avoid throwing them into the bodies of water.

“Ang atong batasan mismo na-pollute and that is something that we have to change. We badly need it. We only have life pero nganong wa man ta naggukod sa nindot nga life. Nganong kita man naghimo nga bation siya,” she said.

She said that the public, above all, has to be aware of the water quality and act on its rehabilitation since they are the source of waste water.

“Let’s take it as a challenge. Dili lisod ni i-revive. What we need is coordination,” she said.

Pepito also suggested restoring the Bayanihan concept among Filipinos in the protection of the bodies of water.

She said that catching rainwater and creation of septic tanks in the households are also advised.

The department also has several programs on environment management such as adapting a water body. It also conducts a quarterly cleanup of bodies of water but Pepito said they are targeting to hold the cleanup activities once a month starting next year.

Pepito said they shall send the results to the local government units for their corresponding actions such as implementation of projects. She added for this year they will add two more rivers, the Bulacao River in Cebu City and the Binaliw River in Sogod, in their study. They will also include six more bodies of water in the region. — /BRP (FREEMAN)

ACIRC BUTUANON RIVER CEBU CEBU CITY CLASS CLASS C PEPITO QUALITY RIVER WATER WATERS
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