Davao City launches project to treat wastewater from riverside squatters, industrial polluters

DAVAO CITY—This city is planning to control the discharge of untreated waste water from illegal settlements along the Davao River basin, the city’s largest waterway and Mindanao’s third largest.

The ambitious project would be undertaken by a newly created organization called HELP Davao Network, which has conducted a research showing an “alarming number of Davao riverbank illegal settlements without primary wastewater treatment, discharging waste directly on surface water.”

“To address this gap, the Sani-Embankment project is developed to introduce a low-cost, nature-based solution, thus improving wastewater management in Davao River,” the regional Department of Science and Technology (DOST) here said.

The DOST said the project would be a collaborative effort of its regional office in the city, the Dutch government “and private entities with the objective of establishing a cleaner way of discharging wastewater in Davao City and developing a flood-prevention technology.”

The project would install the treatment plant in Barangay Bucana.

The project is designed to treat the wastewater coming from estimated 3,500 households, which produce a waste load of approximately 420,000 liters. The waste load is discharged into the river 1.13 kilometers long, 15 meters wide and 3.5 meters deep.

The project would use locally sourced materials and technology, the DOST said.

“To efficiently treat wastewater, a helophyte filter will be used, which is composed of a sand filter planted with common reeds. The treatment of the water is done by bacteria living in the roots. The filter is 10 times less expensive than any other small-scale wastewater-treatment system,” it added.

The treatment facility could treat half a million liters of wastewater and could last for 20 to 25 years, the DOST said.

It said the houses must be attached to a provided wastewater well, where wastewater would be separated from the rainwater.

“This creates a simplified sewage system, which utilizes the existing channels provided by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” the DOST added.

The Davao River is the largest of Davao City’s nine principal watersheds that include Lasang, Bunawan, Panacan, Matina, Davao, Talomo, Lipadas, and portions of Inawayan and Sibulan.

“Unfortunately, Davao River is also exposed to pressures due to poor wastewater-treatment system of residences and business establishments along the river banks,” the DOST said.

The DOST said the HELP Davao Network would provide technical and infrastructure support and area preparation. The DOST Davao Region would be the monitoring institution to supervise the project implementation and compliance of the work plan.

Sanifyt would serve as the developer of the technology and administer the project funds in accordance with the work plan and timetable. The project is targeted to begin on the third quarter of 2018, the DOST said.

An ordinance giving authority to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the proposed wastewater-management project was passed last year.

The MOA signing gave a go signal for the city to enter into an agreement with Help Davao, DOST Davao Region and Sanifyt to improve the city’s wastewater.

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Manuel Cayon has written about Mindanao for several national newspapers for more than two decades, the most part of it on conflict-reporting, and on the political, insurgency and civil rights front. He also scribbles on the religious and human rights issues for the Thailand-based Catholic news agency as well as he strings for several wire agencies. His stint with then TODAY newspaper started his business reporting obtaining in Mindanao, continuing to this day with BusinessMirror. He received citations and awards, including two Biotechnology awards for reporting. He was a fellow of the US International Visitors’ Program Leadership in 2007 on conflict resolution and alternative dispute resolution. He attended college at the Mindanao State University and the Ateneo de Davao University