THE 273 waterways or estero in different parts of Metro Manila should be a cause of alarm to the 17 mayors of the metropolis because they are all extremely dirty.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said these waterways will not pass the international standards of safety and cleanliness because they are beyond the most probable number (MPN) of less than one up to less than 10 MPN.
“It is not uncommon to see polluted waterways, but as to how polluted they are should be a cause of concern,” the DOST said in a statement.
The DOST cited the Conga Creek in Barangay Hagonoy in Taguig City as an example of dirty waterways in Metro Manila. It is beside Dreamland Subdivision, reaching up to the Pulong Walang Diyos community.
Taguig City’s mayor since 2010 is Mayor Maria Laarni L. Cayetano, wife of Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano.
Conga Creek is 300 meters long and has 28 billion MPN/100ml reading of Coliform and Zero oxygen water analysis, the4 DOST disclosed in the statement.
It means the pollution in Conga Creek is way beyond the acceptable limit, using up all the oxygen, the DOST stressed in the same news statement.
The DOST further explained the implication of extremely dirty waterways, saying “under such condition, no fish would ever survive because they would have to compete with billions of bacteria.”
Several residents of Dreamland Subdivision told the BusinessMirror that Conga Creek has been the subject of a number of complaints to the Cayetano administration, but the latter allegedly did nothing to clean it up.
To address the Conga problem, the DOST’s National Capital Region (NCR) office invited the Cayetano administration and other government agencies in February to jointly clean up the “Conga Creek to achieve a cleaner, safer and healthier waterway.”
The DOST initiated a cleanup drive that happened in less than four hours. It was attended by city government officials, particularly those who belong to the environment department, and Barangay Hagonoy officials headed by Barangay Capt. Renato Gutierrez.
Helping local government units like that of Taguig is part of the assignment of the DOST.
The department said its “aim [is] not only to help in cleanups of the creek, but also help empower the communities through the community empowerment through science and technology.”
At the same time, the DOST wants to “help boost the areas on economic development, health and nutrition, human resource development, disaster-risk reduction and climate-change adaptation and environmental protection and conservation,” DOST-NCR Director Jose B. Patalinjug III said.
Aside from the DOST, cleanup of Conga Creek was also being done by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other stakeholders, including those from the private sector.
The other government agencies that helped the DENR and the DOST in cleaning up Conga Creek were the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health (DOH).
Conga Creek is among the 48 out of 273 creeks in Metro Manila that has been included in the “Adopt an Estero Program” of the DENR.
The DOST said its NCR office and the other partners of the DENR will support each other in terms of information and education campaigns, community mobilization and other activities that would foster harmonious relations, decongest the pilot site of garbage, introduce interventions which are aligned with the DENR-approved measures, such as planting of bamboo and other plant species along the river banks in order to address the dirty waterways in Metro Manila like Conga Creek.
After the less than four-hour cleanup activity at the Conga Creek, DOST-NCR employees removed their tarpaulin that announced its was adopting an estero project.
Afterward, DOST-NCR people, representatives of the Cayetano administration, barangay officials and representatives of different government agencies, including the DENR, conducted the cleanup as witnessed by this BusinessMirror correspondent.
At the same time, this journalist discovered that the DOST-NCR people, representatives of the Cayetano administration, barangay officials headed by Gutierrez, representatives from MMDA, DENR, DPWH, DILG and DOH never went back to Conga Creek to continue its promise to clean up the dirty waterway.
Not even a single representative from these government agencies returned to Conga Creek to clean it up, the residents of Dreamland Subdivision confirmed.
As of Wednesday, Conga Creek’s MPN remained unacceptable according to international standards.