A 10-YEAR plan for Bued River as a Water Management Quality Area (WQMA) is being finalized with concerted efforts from national line agencies, local government units, the academe, business and environmental groups.
The details were discussed during the First Quarter meeting of the Bued River WQMA governing board council last Tuesday with lead agency Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Environmental Management Board Regional Director Reynaldo Digamo.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the local government of Baguio and Tuba, Dep-Ed, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Public Works and Highways, among others.
The focus of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, Digamo said, is social justice and outcome of programs, not just output. In the case of the Bued River Digamo said the council seek for ways to improve water quality, protect the river from deteriorating, and sustain the area for development.
During national level meetings, the importance of local governments in WQMA project implementations was emphasized thus the grassroots programs, Digamo added.
The 10-year Bued River plan, from 2016, focused on concerns and specific activities of lead agencies for water clearing.
Bued River runs from Baguio, through Tuba and Itogon, Benguet to Pangasinan through Kennon road, and could serve as tourist attraction if the water quality is improved.
The river plan called for water and sanitation project proposals to address the lack of investments on river management projects and programs; greening, seedling production, planting and increase of vegetative cover programs for erosions, flooding and siltation; information and education campaign for lessened use of pesticides which poison river head waters; and barangay assemblies for awareness on the importance of water sanitation.
The plan also delved on the removal and demolition of illegal structures along river banks. Deputized environmental enforcers, or river marshalls may also be operationalized through partnerships of local government and private institutions, to guard against pollution in rivers.
Water sampling posts are identified and established in different areas to reinforce result readings; composting, recycling and segregation at source to prevent indiscriminate dumping of mixed wastes; Adopt-an-Estero programs for public/private partners are also among the river cleanliness programs.
The biggest problems however are free-flowing seepages, either from residential, poultry and piggery, and industrial areas which the governing board council may be addressed by sewage treatment plants with increased coverage, communal and centralized septic tanks. Voluntary compliance to sanitary measures however are solicited, including validation and monitoring for discharge permits, Registered Hazardous Waste Generators or Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC).
A sustainable seepage management plan, and strict implementation of city/municipal ordinance on indiscriminate dumping even in the municipalities of Tuba and Itogon, Benguet.
Discharges from the mines shall also be monitored, the plan states. (Julie Fianza/PIO)