CAGAYAN de Oro City Councilor Edna Dahino on Wednesday sounded the alarm bells over the reported leak of garbage lecheate from the landfill in barangay Pagalungan which is now starting to affect water quality of rivers in two hinterland barangays of Cagayan de Oro.
Dahino, the vice chairperson of committee on environment and natural resource, said she visited Pagalungan last week to check if the complaints of the officials in said barangays were accurate.
True enough, the sad condition were unveiled right before her very eyes: stinking garbage juices are coming out of the landfill, and when she gets to the lecheate pond, and eventually reached the river.. ”it’s color has turned 'cloudy'.”
"Akong nakita na naa gyuy nakagawas nga duga sa basura, atong nadungog firsthand ang reklamo sa mga tao, accordingly, naay namatay na daw nga mga isda, ug gapangatol na ang mga tao (We saw that the lecheate of garbage are coming out of the landfill, we heard firsthand their complaints, fishkill has occurred and that the water river has caused skin irritation)," she said.
City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) head Edwin Dael has earlier dismissed the complaints, saying, it is impossible that leaks would happen since the landfill is contained, with the construction of a lecheate pond and that High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) liners are in place to sip the garbage lecheate.
However, Dahino said the lecheate pond is shallow thus, lecheate comes out from it, especially when it rains hard.
"From what I saw, pipes from the landfill were connected to the lecheate pond, and from the lecheate pond, there is a creek or somewhat a catchment, which leads to the river, this is why, I am very sure that lecheate reaches the river," she said.
Water tests were conducted on the river, and results released from Clenro showed that water quality is "within tolerable level".
But Dahino said, the "tolerable level" could mean intolerable for people living in the area, and consider the river as their source of livelihood.
"Kung OK ang test, unya dili OK sa tao, OK lang lugar gihapon? What if ang within tolerable level, maka-cause ug irritation or maka-cause na ug fishkill? Do we need to wait that rivers in the city will no longer be habitable for fishes, before we start looking for solutions?" she said.
Dahino added she wants answers from Clenro, especially that the City Council has prioritized the transfer of the supposed engineered landfill so that it would not cause health hazards to residents of its previous location in barangay Carmen.
Dahino, also the chairperson of the committee on finance, revealed they have allocated "enough budget" for the landfill that was transferred in Pagalungan last June, to make sure that its creation follows all standard requirements of the law.
"We will schedule a committee hearing on this so to hear both sides, the Clenro and the barangay officials. For Clenro, they need to answer if they have indeed followed the requirements," she said.
Both Pagalungan village chief Eric Naparete and San Simon village chief have complained of foul smell of the landfill and skin irritation after swimming in the river.