By Ria Fernandez
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu traced on Friday the origin of untreated water wastes that flow out to the Manila Bay.
On his inspection, Cimatu first visited the Estero de San Antonio de Abad which is bounded by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Ospital ng Maynila, and Manila Zoo in Malate district. Its waters look severely contaminated and release putrid smell.
Data from DENR showed that the fecal coliform level at the said waterway was 1.3 billion most probable numbers per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml).
“It is validated that the water that comes out here is really dirty so its source is dirty,” Cimatu said when asked to react on what he saw.
The environment chief then dropped by the Manila Zoo and confirmed that it lack a sewage treatment plant (STP).
The animal park was built 60 years ago and houses around 640 animal residents.
“They have to put a treatment plan. Otherwise, they cannot throw waste water to the canal,” Cimatu said
The zoo management, however said, that they have septic tanks and that they only dump animal bath water into the estero.
“The Estero de Abad is so long. It passes Leveriza. So, definitely we are not the only contributor [of pollution],” said Atty. Jas Garcia, officer-in-charge, Manila Public Recreations Bureau.
Nevertheless, Garcia assured that the City Government of Manila will be complying with the requirement.
No timeline yet have been given to Manila Zoo but Cimatu said that based on their experience in Boracay it would take three to six months to put up an STP.
On the other hand, Cimatu was told that Ospital ng Maynila is connected to an STP.
“[But] we will still check the quality of water [that it discharges],” he said.
“In the meantime, I’m planning to clean the whole Estero…regardless of where [untreated water wastes] are coming so we can already start cleaning the Manila Bay,” the environment secretary said.
Meanwhile, the environment chief also visited Libhoc creek at Parhome III, C5 road, Barangay La Huerta in Parañaque City. The place is inhabited by informal settler families (ISFs) whose domestic wastes go straight to the waters.
DENR said coliform level in such portion has reached more than 1 billion MPN/100ml.
“The 354 ISFs are due for relocation, meaning the high coliform here will be lessened,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu will be bringing up his observations during his meeting with other agencies and local governments involved in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay on Jan. 15.