Envirokonsult Equipment and Services, Inc., the pioneering designer, builder, and operator of fully mechanized septage treatment facilities in the Philippines, has pledged its full support for the Manila Bay rehabilitation project led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Envirokonsult President Anthony V. Gedang joined some 5,000 officials, stakeholders, and volunteers from the private and public sectors on Sunday, January 27, 2019, in a solidarity walk from Quirino Grandstand to Rajah Sulayman Park to kick off the rehabilitation project dubbed as ‘Battle for Manila Bay’.
The Manila Bay clean-up came three months after the popular tourist destination Boracay reopened to public from a six-month rehabilitation period. DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said last December that “the rehab of Manila Bay is a very tall order not only for the DENR but also the other agencies in the [Supreme Court] mandamus.”
The Supreme Court in 2008 issued a continuing mandamus that orders DENR, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Budget and Management, Metro Manila Development Authority, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority, MWSS, and Local Water Utilities Administration to clean Manila Bay.
In line with this, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said that they will procure trash skimmers which will solely be allocated for Manila Bay. The DILG, for its part, said they will help in enforcing environmental laws such as Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Solid Waste Management Act.
The DILG has also ordered all 178 cities and municipalities, and 5714 barangays in Manila Bay Watershed Area to conduct a weekly clean-up activity in the coastal areas and/or inland water systems in their localities.
A report by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau in 2017 found that the fecal coliform level in Manila Bay is over 330 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters which is a million times higher than the safe level of 100 MPN per 100 ml.
“Coliform refers to the group of enteric bacteria (i.e. living in the intestinal tract. Its presence in a water body is indicative of contamination with fecal matter,” said Deborah V. Simsuangco, Pollutions Control Officer of BiOWiSH Philippines, Inc., a provider of biocatalyst for bioaugmentation, pollution control, and facilities management.
Cimatu said they hope to replicate the strategy used in the Boracay clean-up for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay to bring down its coliform level that is fit for swimming, skin diving, and other recreational activities.