DAVAO River has been a subject of discussion for the past weeks following various environmental and health concerns involving the river.
In a Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) test, a water sample sourced from the Davao River near the Bolton Bridge area tested positive of a poliovirus.
While another study conducted by the same agency revealed that an overwhelming level of coliform were found in the river. By saying "overwhelming" it means the river had reached a level of 920,000 most probable per number (MPN) per 100 milliliter of coliform in September this year.
The number of coliform bacteria must be zero MPN, while the "acceptable level" is 100 MPN.
During a clean-up drive along Davao River in Barangay 1-A on Thursday, volunteers discovered many plastics with feces thrown into the river.
Barangay 1-A captain Arnel Policarpio said they found out that there are currently some 20 houses near the river without septic tanks.
These established, it is clear that a significant volume of untreated domestic wastes directly discharged to the river making it unsafe for public's health and the environment.
However, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao clarified the Davao River is not yet considered a cesspool as compared to Boracay Island and Manila Bay.
"Not yet" as the operative word.
Are we going to wait until Davao River reach that level?
The river's water quality is showing constant deterioration. The water contamination particularly in the highly inhabited areas is way beyond the acceptable level.
Davao River plays a very important role to the people of Davao City considering the various services it provides in agriculture, tourism, and in households.
The need to rehabilitate the river is more than needed now than ever.
Davao River, designated as Water Quality Management Area, needs holistic intervention to arrest the problems that threatened its water quality.
The push by Davao City Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, chair of the Committee on Health of the City Council for the Zero Open Defecation Ordinance is highly commendable and must be put in place as soon as possible.
It's 2019 and it's sad to note that the government has yet to fully address the lack of septic tanks in the city. But it is sadder that some Dabawenyos settle to live this way out of poverty and irresponsibility.
Having a water sewerage management system and a water treatment facility are also potential long-term solutions to address the issue of Davao River.
But apart from these, there is something people can do to help solve this problem: Waste mindfulness.
Never throw carelessly your own garbage. Be sure to have a proper waste management system in your households. Let us show everyone that we care and value our ecosystem.
Let us make Davao River and other riverbanks a pool of biodiversity, not a cesspool.