MCWD to handle disposal of toilet wastes or else Cebu suffers groundwater contamination
With 90 percent of Metro Cebu’s population using leaking and substandard septic tanks, the quality of ground water is at serious risk.
Before the situation gets out of control, towns and cities are being asked to support a plan of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) to collect and treat human wastes to avoid contamination.
A resolution was approved yesterday urging the 13 towns and cities in Metro Cebu to adopt the “comprehensive septage management system” proposed by MCWD.
By the end of 2015, MCWD will charge “sanitation fees” for collecting toilet wastes from households.
A fee of P2 to P2.50 per cubic meter of water will be charged to cover desludging expenses, said MCWD General Manager Ernie Delco.
The need to desludge septic tanks and transport them to a treatment plants, which are still to be built, is urgent because of the threat of polluting groundwater reserves.
The resolution was passed yesterday during their third quarterly meeting of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB) headed by chairman Gov. Hilardio Davide III and co-chairman Roberto Aboitiz.
The move is part of the 2050 Mega Cebu vision of balanced urban growh in seven cities and six municipalities.
“We have to do the septage program now because sooner or later, if we cannot clean our septic tanks, nitrate levels in all the wells will rise and we cannot control the situation,” said Delco.
“People should understand that we are doing this to protect our groundwater source and in the future, lower the contamination.”
At present, human waste from septic tanks is sunctioned out by commercial haulers and dumped in any available waterway or the sea.
MCWD plans to set up their first P80 million septage treatment plant in a 3,000 square meter lot in barangay San Miguel in Cordova town.
Bidding will start in November. Construction will start next year.
An existing treatment plant at the North Reclamation Area was donated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
A third will be set up in Consolacion or Liloan town, while a fourth will rise in Cebu City to serve cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay.
He said those who are already MCWD clients will pay the new “sanitation fee” on a “staggered basis” through their monthly bill.
MCWD has to first secure approval from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and hold a public hearing before the fees are imposed two years from now.
Mega Cebu covers cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Danao, Talisay, Naga and Carcar cities and the towns of Minglanilla, San Fernando, Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.
A 2011 study funded by the USAID showed high levels of nitrate were discovered in groundwater sources in barangays Tisa, Guadalupe, Banawa and Pardo in Cebu City.
To reduce the contamination to a manageable level, Delco said MCWD dilutes the water with clean water from other sources.
The study also showed that 90 percent of Metro Cebu’s population have septic tanks but are sub-standard and leak sewage to the soil.
“Nitrate has a tolerable limit of 50 milligrams per liter. For us not to exceed the limit, we dilute the water with water from another source before we supply it to a customer. But that’s if you still have healty wells in the area,” he said.
2050 Road MAP
Yesterday, the MCDCB also approved:
1. the second interim report for “The Roadmap Study for Sustainable Urban Development in Metro Cebu” crafted by JICA consultants. .
The study team’s deputy leader Ken Kumazawa discussed the situation of urban, economic, employment and population growth in Cebu province by 2050.
JICA will finalize roadmaps with action plans for the short term (1-3 years) and long-term (4-6 years).
“The chemistry is there. Our local congressmen have asked us how they can help realize this vision. But we need to perform and it has to be now,” said Aboitiz, who presided in the meeting.
2. A draft bill to hasten infrastructure projects through proposed amendments of the Road Right-of-Way (ROW) Law or Republic Act 8974.
3. an Eco-Tourism Plan For Olango Island and the Central Cebu Protected Landscape Plan by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7).
4.a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) to tap the school and “share and exchange expertise, data information materials and other resources” to advance the Mega Cebu vision.
Yesterday’s board meeting was attended by Mayor Duke Frasco of Liloan, Democrito Diamante of Tuburan, Teresa Alegado of Consolacion, Nicepuro Apura of Carcar, Johnny Delos Reyes of Talisay and host Adelino Sitoy of Cordova town.
MCWD will start the septage program in Cordova town and Cebu City where ordinances have already been approved.
Collection will next be in Lilo-an, Talisay City and in other franchise areas starting from Compostela town in the north to Talisay in south Cebu.
Under the scheme, MCWD will send trucks to desludge household septic tanks through a vacuum.
The septage will be brought to a treatment plant where the waste is processed as “soil ameliorants or fertilizer” and will be sold to interested buyers.
Proper disposal this way differs from the current practice where private haulers “throw the waste anywhere” said Delco.
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