An official from the Davao River Basin Management Alliance said there is an urgency to implement Vertical Helophyte Filtering Systems (VHFS) to rescue the ailing Davao River.
Dr. Della Grace Bacaltos, representing the Help Davao Network, bared this during a media interview held on November 23, 2023, at Bapa Benny Tutud of Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).
She underscored the need to expand VHFS deployment along the Davao River owing to elevated levels of phosphate, suspended solids, and fecal coliform.
“We are extending to other provinces actually because it is not only the poultry and the food processing companies but we are also considering hospitals and maybe residential because we know that they can also discharge a lot of effluents in domestic ways,” Bacaltos said.
The installation of VHFS has commenced in various industries along the river, with Bacaltos noting collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology-Davao Region (DOST-Davao).
Initial efforts have targeted poultry and food processing sectors, resulting in the establishment of approximately five VHFS units along the river.
While most VHFS installations are commercially managed, a community-based VHFS, backed by the Davao City Water District (DCWD), the city government of Davao, and DOST-Davao, stands as an exception.
Bacaltos emphasized the critical role of filtration systems, asserting that water must undergo a rigorous filtering process before discharge.
She highlighted the capacity of specific plants to absorb pollutants, ensuring that discharged water meets prescribed standards and is free from contaminants.
Strategically positioned midstream and downstream along the Davao River, VHFS units target industrial wastewater discharges concentrated in these areas.
Highlighting data from the Davao River Basin Health Score Card spanning 2019–2022, Bacaltos revealed concerning statistics.
The report indicated moderate conditions for around 60–40% of endemic amphibians, reptiles, birds, plants, highland forests, and mangroves within the basin.
Moreover, the data underscored a severe lack of species diversity in mammals, plants, and forests, emphasizing the basin's depleted forest cover.
Bacaltos proposed a dual approach to rejuvenate the river's health, advocating for increased forest cover and reduced quarry activities upstream.
The call to action remains urgent as efforts to fortify the Davao River's vitality and ecological balance take center stage. RGP