By Zaldy Comanda
BAGUIO CITY– It was not just the quality of air that improved in the eight weeks of restrained human activity under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), but also the city’s water quality.
City Environment and Parks Management Officer-in-Charge Rhenan Diwas said that since the start of the ECQ, a marked improvement had been observed in the wastewater influent and effluent of the 34-year-old Baguio Sewerage Treatment Plant (BSTP).
Diwas said the influent and effluent not only significantly decreased but also became compliant with the water quality standards of the Dept of Environment and Natural Resources.
Based on the water test result conducted by the CEPMO-Wastewater, Water and Air Monitoring Division (WAMD), the wastewater influent (raw) in February 2020 reached almost the maximum level at 8,557.18 m3/day but suddenly dropped at 4,369. 97 m3/day in March 2020.
The wastewater quality also improved and now falls within the standards set under DENR Administrative Order 1990-35 (Effluent Standards for Different Water Quality Parameter and DAO 2016-08 (Water Quality Guidelines and General Effluent Standards) whereas it gained failed laboratory results from January to February 2020.
Diwas attributed the improvement to decreased population as most tourists, university students (boarders) and migrant workers left the city at the onset of the ECQ.
He noted that the City was packed with tourists in the month of February 2020 in anticipation of the 25th Panagbenga which was cancelled due to the threat of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Likewise, the closure of majority of the commercial activities (restaurants) and limited operation of public market and slaughter house were seen as contributory to the less turbid wastewater discharges,” Diwas said.
Diwas said that while population and economic activities are the major factors of environmental pollution, these too are recognized forces that boost the city’s economy thus he suggested measures to balance human activities and environmental sustainability:
- The City should pursue the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Baguio Sewerage Treatment Plant to expand its coverage to other barangays;
- Continue the rehabilitation of sewer lines;
- Improve Septage Management System, which include additional Septage Facility;
- Rehabilitate the public market to include its own sewerage facility;
- Transfer the Slaughter House outside CBD and to include a sewerage facility for animal waste and others.
“Most importantly, discipline among the populace. Change should begin within ourselves,” he said.