THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it is cooperating with the Ayala-led Manila Water Co. Inc. (MWCI) to conduct an overhaul assessment of endangered Pasig River.

The $300,000 grant would help in putting up a waste water treatment system.

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A separate $50,000 grant is given to the Lopez-led ABS-CBN Foundation (AFI) for a project aimed at educating residents on proper sanitation and waste disposal.

The ADB said the 27-kilometer-long Pasig River was once used by locals as a source of drinking water and fish, and a place to swim, but in recent decades it has been polluted by the increasing amounts of untreated sewage brought by rapid urbanization and insufficient sanitation systems.

“Nearly 60 percent of the water pollution in metro Manila is caused by residential sewage since only about 12 percent of households are connected to a sewerage system while the rest empty their wastewater directly into the city's rivers,” said bank private-sector operations department director general Philip Erquiaga.

“This study will assess what needs to be done to turn the Pasig River back into the healthy, thriving heart of the city that it once was,” he added.

“With this ADB funding, ABS-CBN will have the resources to raise awareness, clean the river, and ensure it stays clean for future generations,” said Regina Paz Lopez, managing director of the ABS-CBN Foundation.

For his part, Manila Water chief finance officer Luis Juan Oreta said the master plan of the company will amount to P50 billion to be spent over 10 years, with P4 billion set aside for 2010.

The six-month assessment should provide key information that will lead to the building of a wastewater treatment system under Manila Water's Pasig River Catchment Sewerage Project, which covers the cities of Quezon, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Makati, Taguig and Pateros, the ADB said. (Virgil B. Lopez/Sunnex)