THE water quality of the Panigan-Tamugan River, poised as Davao City’s next source of potable water, dropped a notch, a local environmental group said Monday, February 17.
Interface Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) executive director Chinkie Peliño-Golle bared that the water quality of Panigan-Tamugan watershed lowered from Class AA to Class A based on the monitoring of Bantayo Aweg last week.
However, she assured the water in the river remained potable.
According to the water body classification set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order (DAO) No. 08, Series of 2016, the highest water quality or Class AA waters are intended primarily for waters having watershed which are uninhabited and/or otherwise protected areas and which require only approved disinfections to meet the latest Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water (PNSDW).
Meanwhile, waters with Class A quality already require conventional treatment such as coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection to meet the latest PNSDW.
Golle said plastic wrappers and residential wastes have been found polluting around the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed.
“Sadly, dili na ingon ana ang ka hinlo sa palibot. Last week pud, ang mga Bantay Bukid namunit og basura sa Panigan-Tamugan, daghan kaayog basura ilang napunit (Its surroundings are not as clean as before. Our forest guards were able to collect heaps of garbage in Panigan-Tamugan last week),” she said.
She said some of the types of waste found in the area include shampoo sachets, food wrappers, and tetra packs.
There were also trekkers and climbers in Mt. Tipolog who leave their trash in the mountain.
Their water monitoring team has also detected traces of phosphate and nitrate which are components of synthetic fertilizers.
“It means gikan na siya sa mga abuno nga ginagamit sa plantasyon kaya naga-contribute siya sa water quality (It came from fertilizers used by plantations which contributed to the change in our water quality),” she said, pertaining plantations of banana, pineapple, and flowers in the area.
Golle said the Panigan-Tamugan is just one of the seven watersheds in the Davao River Basin. The other watersheds are not included in their monitoring.
“Challenge pud na siya sa Watershed Management Council (WMC) sa next Watershed Summit karong June 2020 nga dapat naa nay report sa status sa uban pang mga watersheds (The WMC must also report the status of other watersheds on the next Watershed Summit this June 2020),” she said.
Golle urged the local government to intensify its enforcement of Davao City Watershed Code especially the provision that penalizes monocrop agricultural practices and the use of non-organic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other farm production inputs and crop protection agents.
She added the boundaries around the watershed separating the protected areas and areas allowed for the plantations and houses must be identified.
“Dili man gud pwede nga mag-business as usual ta kay kana gyud ang atong kakuhaan og tubig. Kung dili nato siya maprotektahan, mumata na lang ta nga atong ginaconsider nga pinakahinlo nga tubig sa Davao, dili na nato mainom (We cannot just do business as usual because that will be out next water source. If we will not be able to protect it, we will soon wake up and realize that we can no longer drink the water we consider the cleanest),” Golle said.
The water in the Panigan and Tamugan River will be the source of water in the city once the ongoing Davao City Bulk Water Project, a bulk water project of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) and Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. (Apo Agua), is complete and functional.
DCWD and Apo Agua, however, have yet to comment on Idis findings as they have not yet replied to this writer as of Tuesday, February 18.