RESIDENTS of Banaybanay, Davao Oriental are concerned over the heavy siltation incident that caused the town’s river and coastal waters to turn to orange.

A set of photos uploaded Friday, January 14, on Facebook by Emelyn Q. Morillo and Rudolph Delacruz Espe showed that the Mapagba River in Barangay Maputi, Banaybanay, Davao Oriental is currently far from its natural state due to discoloration.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Davao Region (DENR-Davao), in a public statement released Friday, said it created an investigating team to assess and evaluate what caused the incident.

The team, composed of personnel from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Davao, Environmental Management Bureau-Davao, and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office-Lupon, were deployed Saturday, January 15, to investigate the area.

However, DENR-Davao initially said the heavy siltation incident may have been caused by the large volume of water following “heavy rains [that] occurred for more than 12 hours with an accumulated rainfall intensity of 111 millimeter from January 13 at 12 noon to January 14 at 5 a.m.”

Siltation, as defined in Encyclopedia of Environmental Health (Second Edition), 2019, is water pollution most often caused by soil erosion or sediment spill.

Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) Executive Director Mark Peñalver told SunStar Davao that residents attributed the incident to a mining operation in the area.

“We are still gathering information regarding the situation. We are also closely coordinating with some members of the community for us to have a better assessment of the situation,” he said.

“We at Idis have always been an anti-mining advocate as this kind of activity does more harm than good to the people and the environment. Should we continue to allow this kind of activity, we will see more of these situations in the future, worse, dead rivers,” Peñalver added.

DENR’s immediate response, he said, was a welcome development.

“It is good to know that DENR has responded to the issue and will conduct an investigation. I hope they will also listen to the people on the ground as they are greatly affected,” he said.

(This is a developing story. Please refresh page for more updates.)