The effort of Governor Lilia "Nanay Baby" Pineda to solve the garbage problem in the province is laudable. The municipalities are supposed to be at the forefront in addressing this problem with the province in a supporting role, but she took the lead in doing the "clean-up."

The biggest headache of LGU's in complying with Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, is the final disposal site for residual waste. Open dumpsites were banned since 2006 and only Sanitary Landfills (SLF) are allowed. There's only once such facility in Region 3 and it is located in Capas, Tarlac. It's too far and the P 800 to P 1,200 tipping fee per ton of waste is prohibitive.

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A sanitary landfill similar to the one in Capas, Tarlac is expensive to build. Thus, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) came up with less expensive designs to give an option to LGU's to build their own. While cheaper, the scaled down versions are still compliant with the law.

Under NSWMC Resolution No. 6 approved last December 15, 2005, SLF's were categorized into four types. Category 1, for LGUs or cluster of LGU's with net residual waste of less than or equal to 15 tons per day (TPD). Category 2 for those with greater than 15 TPD but less than or equal to 75 TPD, category 3 for those with greater than 75 TPD but less than or equal to 200 TPD and category 4 for waste greater that 200TPD.

All categories are required to have daily and intermediate soil cover, embankment /cell separation, drainage facility and methane gas venting. Leachate collection and treatment for categories 1, 2 and 3 can be provided at a later stage while a physical and biological treatment of leachate is required for category 4.

To prevent seepage of leachate to the ground, category 1 and 2 SLF requires clay lining only and not a synthetic HDPE plastic liner which is expensive. Category 3 can either be a clay liner or an equivalent plastic liner. A category 4 SLF requires both clay and plastic lining.

According to my friends at the NSWMC, the cost of a category 1 SLF is

P7.5 Million for 1.5 hectares, P12M for 2.5 hectares and P16 M for 3 hectares. For a category 2 facility, the cost is P30M for 5 hectares, P41 M for 6.5 hectares and P48.5 M for 7.5 hectares. The price tag is exclusive of the cost of the land.

For all categories, there are requirements for choosing a site. The facility should not be constructed within 75 meters from a known recent active fault. It shall be at least 50 meters away from any perennial stream, lake or river and shall not be located in a floodplain. There must be at least 2 meters distance between the top of the liner system and underlying groundwater. It must also be consistent with the overall land use plan of the LGU.

I suggest that Gov. Baby Pineda reconstitute and convene the Provincial Solid Waste Management Board (PSWMB) so that she can tap the expertise of the members. The PSWMB is composed of all the Mayors of Pampanga, representative of the SP, agencies of government like DENR, EMB, DOST, DA and private sector representatives.

Last year, the PSWMB visited the SLF in Montalban, Rizal and the power plant which is fueled by the methane gas generated from the landfill. Sub-committees were even created for sanitary landfill, MRF and IEC.