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With its mandate to address environmental issues that contribute to the degradation of the nation’s coastal and marine ecosystems, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-XI) is strictly implementing Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 as one of its priorities together with the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

With the on-going rehabilitation of Manila Bay, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that stricter enforcement of RA 9275 is the key to addressing water quality issues and other environmental problems not only in the historic bay but in all the rivers and other water bodies in the country.

During the recent Pre-SONA on Climate Change event held in Davao City, Cimatu said in an interview that he wants to have communal septage facilities in the city’s coastal informal settlements to help minimize the presence of coliform in the coast.

“As long as the settlers are defecating there, there is coliform,” he said.

In Region XI, DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is tasked to monitor coliform levels in the rivers and coasts through its monitoring stations along Davao River and Davao Gulf.

EMB-XI has established 25 monitoring stations in Davao Gulf from Davao del Sur area to Davao del Norte area while there are also 17 monitoring stations established along the Davao River.

Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Eastern Mindanao and DENR-XI’s Regional Executive Director Ruth M. Tawantawan said that aside from the regular monitoring of Davao Gulf and Davao River, the Department has also taken initial action in addressing the sanitation of the Davao Gulf as EMB-XI will designate it as a Water Quality Management Area (WQMA) this year.

“The plans of rehabilitating Davao Gulf is part of Secretary Cimatu’s priority in protecting the marine and coastal ecosystem,” Tawantawan said.

Pursuant to Section 5 of Republic Act 9275 known as The Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is mandated to designate WQMA.

The objective of the WQMA is to protect, through stakeholders collaboration, the water body and its tributaries by keeping their water quality within the Water Quality Guidelines or Criteria conforming to the water body’s classification or even improve the quality to higher classification. A WQMA Action Plan will be prepared in order to address water quality issues and problems in the area and later result to the improvement or better water quality of the said water body.

“Along with these initiatives, we are also one with the City Government on its plans in establishing sewerage treatment systems in the City. This is one of the City’s projects that we would want to prioritize and to pursue,” Tawantawan added.

During Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio’s State of the City Address (SOCA) last October 2018, she suggested to put focus in building and operating a septage treatment facility.

“As we continue to improve, rehabilitate and build new drainage systems, we shall compliment this with the creation of the sewerage treatment facilities all over the city. We will continue to study on how to best build the sewerage treatment systems to ensure the city’s compliance to waste water regulations,” Mayor Duterte said.

This proposal is included in the IM4Davao which is a 27-year Infrastructure Modernization Plans that contains a proposed short, medium and long-term high priority projects for Davao City with an estimated cost of PhP 298.4 billion. At present, there is an on-going feasibility study for the entire region which is being conducted by the National Economic Development Authority.

The City has already identified 6 sites for the establishment of sewerage treatment facilities. The location of “Area A” that is included in IM4Davao’s priority project is within the vicinity of Magsaysay Park that covers the districts of Poblacion and Agdao.

The plant will serve a population of 370,000 people with a treatment capacity of 100,000 cubic meters per day.