Desalination plant owner defends wastewater quality

Cebu City map.
Cebu City map.

THE wastewater discharged from the Tejero desalination plant of Mactan Rock Industries Inc. (MRII), a Cebu-based water solutions provider, allegedly has better quality than that of Tejero Creek, according to one of its owners.

Antonio Tompar, one of the owners of MRII, in a text message to SunStar Cebu on Tuesday morning, April 9, 2024, maintained that their facility, situated across Tejero Creek, is not responsible for the change in the waterway’s color.

The City Government suspects MRII’s desalination plant in Tejero of causing the phenomenon in Tejero Creek.

When asked how they plan to address allegations from the Cebu City Environmental Sanitation and Enforcement Team (Ceset) that their facility lacks proper drainage and a septic tank, Tompar said their wastewater is directly drained into the creek because its quality is not harmful to the environment.

“Diretso man na drain sa creek diha kay better quality man ato drain water sa Reverse Osmosis than the receiving water. Mao na all our water plants are like that also permitting sad,” he said in a text message early Tuesday morning.

(That drain directly flows into the creek because the quality of our drain water from Reverse Osmosis is better than that of the receiving water. That’s why all our water plants are like that, and it’s also permitted.)

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a filtration technology utilized in wastewater treatment to remove contaminants from water by “pushing it through a semipermeable membrane.”

SunStar Cebu has requested documents that would prove the use of RO by the facility, but MRII has yet to provide these as of writing.

The City Government, through its Ceset and the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Ccenro), however, is still awaiting the results of the test conducted by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 7 on the water samples taken from Tejero Creek and the discharge from MRII’s desalination facility as of Tuesday, April 9.

Tejero Barangay Captain Harold Seno said the white substance mixed into the waters of Tejero Creek appeared to reduce the river’s foul smell, but he welcomed an investigation.

Ccenro earlier said they also do not discount the possibility that others, besides MRII, may have caused the phenomenon, especially since there is also a complex drainage system in the area.

SunStar Cebu first reported on the sudden transformation of Tejero Creek’s murky waters into a white hue on April 6, after a volunteer took photos of the river’s situation on that day.

On Sunday, April 7, there was a slight improvement in the color of the creek’s water.

After SunStar Cebu consulted with Ceset on the matter on April 6, the latter deployed personnel on the same day to inspect the creek, before Ccenro and the EMB 7 made a separate investigation on Sunday, April 7.

Ceset has already issued a citation ticket against MRII for the alleged absence of a proper drainage system and septic tank. On Monday, Ccenro discovered that the facility in Tejero also lacks an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

ECC refers to a document that the DENR-EMB issues, allowing a proposed project to proceed to the next stage of project planning.

Tompar argued that they have an ECC for the facility; however, it is still under the name of Pilipinas Water Resources Inc. (PWRI).

“We used to be part sa (of the) Pilipinas Water pero gibahin namo mga planta. Apil na sa bahin namo, (but we’ve since divided the plants between us. That is part of our share),” he told SunStar Cebu.

SunStar Cebu tried to obtain a copy of the ECC through the personnel it was referred by Tompar at MRII. However, this writer was informed that it could not be facilitated due to the holiday and the absence of office work on Tuesday.

“Rest assured that we are already actively coordinating with the proper government offices regarding the matter,” said Michelle Roble of MRII. / WBS


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