Cleaner water for a healthier Cebu
FACILITIES that will treat household septage and help minimize pollution of water bodies will be put in Metro Cebu soon with a P1-billion grant-in-aid from the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
The grant is part of the series of projects received by the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) from the Japanese government to improve its management of water loss, disaster preparedness and to address the pollution of water sources.
Currently, MCWD is working closely with the City of Yokohama, Jica and Metro Cebu local government units to determine the appropriate sites for the plants and obtain support for the project’s requirements.
The Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB), which MCWD is a member of, is supporting the project as the establishment of septage treatment plants (STP) is considered a priority project under the Roadmap Study for Sustainable Urban Development in Metro Cebu’s Sub-Roadmap for Wastewater Management.
The treatment plants will benefit Cebu, which is often pictured as the ultimate island getaway with gorgeous beaches and pristine blue waters. While our beaches are certainly one of Cebu’s greatest assets for tourism and recreation, they are endangered by the pollution coming from the rapidly growing and urbanizing metro area.
Metro Cebu, like most of the country, has virtually no treatment facilities for household wastewater. While most households with toilets have a septic tank, less than 80 percent report ever having these tanks “desludged” or having the waste from the septic tank removed. In addition, the large majority of these tanks are bottomless, meaning that the uncollected waste can eventually seep into the groundwater, where most of the population sources their water supply.
The Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 mandated local water districts to provide sewerage or septage management services. The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), as of August 2016, has begun operations of its first STP in Cordova in compliance with the Clean Water Act and the ordinances on mandatory desludging of septic tanks of both residential and commercial establishments in Cordova and Lapu-Lapu City.
Aside from regular desludging of septic tanks to ensure there will be no contamination of water sources, the ordinances on Septage Management will also correct the problems on the lack of toilets, bottomless septic tanks or those that are not compliant to standard designs, unregulated desludging practices that pose risks to workers and the proper treatment of waste so it will be environmentally safe for disposal.
The treated waste in MCWD’s STP in Cordova will become biosolids that could be used as a soil conditioner for ornamental plants and wastewater that could be used for fish ponds, firefighting or the local government’s clean and green programs.
Hopefully, this is a step towards reducing the pollution in the Mactan Channel and along Mactan’s world-renowned beaches. Pollution of groundwater and surface water sources puts our population, especially children and the elderly, at risk of water-borne illnesses and diseases.
The Roadmap Study, conducted by JICA and commissioned by MCDCB, emphasizes the need for septage collection and treatment throughout Metro Cebu to ensure proper sanitation for the population and environmental protection. The establishment of these septage treatment plants will push us closer to a cleaner and healthier environment for the benefit of Metro Cebu residents.
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