Environmental advocate seeks volunteers for Guadalupe River cleanup

Environmental advocate seeks volunteers for Guadalupe River cleanup

Amid the bustling activity of Cebu City, the Guadalupe River faces a troubling situation. Since 2019, it has been classified as "dead" by the Environmental Management Bureau Region 7. Severely polluted and lacking essential oxygen for aquatic life, the river now primarily serves as a channel for untreated wastewater and solid waste. 

Local efforts to clean up the river have intensified, and the current PASIL Clean Up Project by Mike Smith and Team Zero Co. signals a fresh commitment to restore this crucial waterway.

Mission

With 15,000 Facebook followers, Australian entrepreneur and environmental advocate Mike Smit actively educates and mobilizes communities to reduce plastic waste and protect the environment. Earlier this week, he arrived in Pasil, Cebu City, wading ankle-deep into the polluted waters at the mouth of the Guadalupe River, beginning his video with a call to action: “This is a callout to everyone in Cebu City.”

Every day until July 17, 2024 from 4 to 10 a.m., Smith welcomes volunteers to join his team in cleaning up the area. He emphasized, "There’s so much rubbish here that we can't clean it up ourselves."

Recently, Smith also led a successful cleanup effort in Taguig-Pateros River, removing approximately 147,000 kilograms of trash and debris. This initiative highlights the pressing need for environmental action and community involvement in tackling river pollution issues.

Safety

The cleanup site is expected to be heavily contaminated with items such as diapers, sanitary napkins, condoms, broken glass, wood and tires, proper attire and precautions are crucial for safety. Those interested to volunteer but have open wounds are highly discouraged from participating due to the high risk of leptospirosis.

For volunteers, essential items to bring include double-layer gloves to prevent pricks from needles or sharp objects, rubber boots, long sleeves, pants or jogging pants, extra shirts for post-clean-up, alcohol or sanitizer, water and light snacks. Surgical or cloth-only gloves are not recommended due to the risk of punctures from mixed waste. 

Efforts

In 2019, SunStar Cebu reported on a significant cleanup effort in the Guadalupe River, Cebu, where 21 metric tons of garbage were successfully removed. Local government units, non-governmental organizations and volunteers collaborated to clear the river of various waste materials, including plastic bottles and styrofoam. This initiative aimed to enhance water quality, mitigate flooding risks, and promote environmental conservation in the region.

In 2022, several reports of alarming levels of fecal coliform bacteria were found in several rivers within Cebu City, as highlighted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Specifically, the rivers involved include the Guadalupe and Lahug rivers. High levels of fecal coliform indicate contamination from human and animal waste, posing significant health risks and environmental concerns. The DENR emphasizes the urgent need for measures to address pollution sources and improve water quality in these affected water bodies.

Future

In the face of mounting challenges, from polluted rivers to urgent calls for action, the efforts of individuals like Mike Smith are a welcome gesture that will help revive the glory of big water bodies. But until then, sustainability will continue to lie in the hands of the locals and big companies who endorse responsible environmental practices and commit to preserving our natural resources for future generations.

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