Davao City LGU, DOST to implement improved wastewater management project

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 Aug) – The City Government of Davao is reviewing the memorandum of agreement with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the initial implementation of the proposed improved wastewater management project, DOST-Davao Region assistant director Mirasol G. Domingo said.

She told MindaNews on Wednesday that the schedule of the MOA signing would be arranged between DOST director Antonio Sales and Mayor Sara Duterte with Dutch consultants and a representative from the Hydrology for Environment, Life and Policy (HELP) Davao Network, the civil society organization partner for the project.

City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) head Ivan Cortez said they plan to start the construction of the wastewater management project called “sanitation embankment project” in the first quarter next year at a site in Barangay 76-A in Bucana where almost 400 informal households lived before they were relocated.

The initial stage is worth P66.98 million.

He said the project utilizes a vertical helophyte filter system (VHFS) to treat wastewater that will prevent polluting the Davao River stemming from the lack of sewerage lines and sewerage treatment plants.

Based on the project proposal submitted to the City Government, the VHFS is a low-cost and nature-based secondary wastewater treatment system and is a well-known decentralized wastewater treatment technology in the Netherlands where over 50,000 systems have been installed already.

It said the rapid urbanization caused natural environment “a significant amount of stress as a result of insufficient wastewater management.”

“Due to the lack of public space and lack of understanding what the pollution will do in the future scenarios, there is limited improvement in wastewater management in which highly dense areas like squatter areas experience open sewerage and an absence of proper garbage collection,” the proposal added.

It said garbage “collection and human waste is directly disposed into surface waters which is disturbing reality in which the development of deadly epidemics is just a matter of time” and that a sustainable yet low-cost best practices must be considered to prevent this alarming situation.

“The slow movement towards proper sanitation lays in the fact that there isn’t an overall solution to the wastewater problem which is caused by both lower income, middle income and local businesses,” the proposal added.

It said that the issues on wastewater in the city have been categorized into three: informal settlements, septic tanks and grey wastewater management, and lack of public space.

It said the project seeks to improve the sanitation for the urban poor, decrease environmental pollution caused by the coastal informal settlers, increase flood protection of the city center, increase infrastructural mobility, create public recreation areas for the citizens, and stimulate public private partnerships in the implementation, operation, and maintenance phases of the projects.

It said the Davao River “plays a very important role to the people of Davao City considering the various services it provides like in the sector of agriculture, tourism and in households.”

“The Davao City Water District had made known to the public about its plan to tap Davao River as a future source of drinking water. But unfortunately, the river’s water quality showed constant deterioration,” the proposal noted.

An assessment made by the Environmental Management Bureau 11 showed the water contamination in the highly inhabited areas is “way beyond the acceptable level and is mostly obtained from the untreated domestic waste directly discharged to the river.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)