Rivers in Central Visayas 'cleaner'; water quality still 'poor'

CEBU. Some 300 volunteers pick up garbage and debris in some parts of the Butuanon River in Mandaue City for an hour in February 2019. (SunStar File/Allan Cuizon)

THE physical condition of rivers in Central Visayas has significantly improved with three massive cleanups that reduced the amount of garbage in the water.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said residents have refrained from disposing of their garbage on riverbanks.

But water quality has shown little improvement. There is a need to introduce measures to improve sewerage systems and to set up sewage treatment plants in cities and municipalities traversed by these rivers.

As part of the rehabilitation, DENR led simultaneous river cleanups involving 848 partners collaborating or working together to revitalize rivers.

In Central Visayas, the activities took place last Feb. 22, March 22 and April 12, 2019.

A total of 89,324.20 kilos of trash, or 22,637 sacks, were collected by 28,943 participants.

Gonzales said 33 major rivers have been identified in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor aside from the 10 rivers initially being revived under the River for Life program, which are the Abatan River, Inabanga River and Manaba River in Bohol; Banica River, Panamang-an River and Sicopong River in Negros Oriental; Bulacao River, Butuanon River and Luyang River in Cebu; and Señora River in Siquijor.

He said local government units have been conducting their own cleanups and rehabilitation activities of waterways in their jurisdictions.

In Cebu City, the City Government is focusing on the Guadalupe and Lahug Rivers.

Last year, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu threatened to replace DENR officials who failed to clean waterways in their jurisdictions.

Gonzales said there is a growing consciousness on and support for river quality management after DENR launched the River for Life Program.

During the International River Summit held last November 2018 in Cebu City, Cimatu made a commitment and challenged DENR officials to spearhead the cleaning up of rivers nationwide.

He encouraged business establishments, other government agencies and private institutions to support the River for Life program that will effectively address and implement the Clean Water and Ecological Solid Waste Management Acts.

Referred to as “Recognizing Individuals/Institutions towards Vibrant and Enhanced Rivers,” the program hopes to give life through raising awareness on the need to protect and save rivers in the country from pollution and other threats, according to the DENR website. (EOB)


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