DOST to help build wastewater treatment facility in Davao

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 July) — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) 11 will assist the city government in constructing a vertical helophyte filter system (VHFS), a technology that treats wastewater, at the city-run Maa slaughterhouse this year.

DOST 11 director Anthony C. Sales told a press briefing on Wednesday that the agency allocated at least P9 million this year to fund the construction of VHFS in four areas, including the city-owned abattoir, an urban poor community, and government-supported micro, small and medium enterprises.

A technology already known in Europe, Sales said he had asked the Dutch water engineer Sean Ligtvoet to customize a VHFS technology that will suit the specific conditions of the prospective users in the city, taking into account, among others, the climate and available local materials to minimize the cost of the facility.

“We had our Dutch expert from Netherlands, a water engineer. He was deployed to DOST Davao and then he had this idea that they have this technology being used by industries already in Europe. I said, ‘Can we try that here in the Philippines? You customize it to our conditions because the conditions there are different – it’s temperate there while we are tropical,” he said.

Sales said the VHFS had been installed on the four communal toilets in a coastal community in Bucana area, where residents previously lacked access to toilet facilities, polluting the seas.

A report by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed 67.8% of the households used improved and non-shared toilet facilities while 26.6% of the households used shared sanitation facilities.

“On the other hand, 5% of the households used non-improved sanitation facilities and the remaining 0.8% of the households have open defecation sanitation facilities,” Sales said.

He said the technology filters out the waste materials and releases significantly clean water into the sea, as it reduces sulfate, nitrate, coliform, and total suspended solids by 90 to 95%.

He urged the private sector, including households, to adopt the VHFS technology, which would only cost them P90,000 usable for 25 years unlike a typical septic tank which costs P10,000 to P15,000 annually for maintenance.

“After 25 years, after all the materials in the filter are spent, meaning it’s already decomposed and holds so much wastes, it can be used as fertilizer,” he said.

“The strategy of DOST, is that we are engaging as many stakeholders as possible, and we will do it, one MSME at a time, one house hold at a time. In a year, we are targeting 10 to 20 SMEs or establishments that we can help clean the wastewater,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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