By Dhel Nazario
A program for the Manila Bay rehabilitation was launched online on Friday. It is dubbed as the Integrated Mapping, Monitoring, Modelling, and Management System for Manila Bay and Linked Environments (IM4ManilaBay) Program, and was introduced along with its component projects to concerned stakeholders and the general public.
The IM4ManilaBay Program was made possible through the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Engineering, the Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry (UP TCAGP), and the Institute of Civil Engineering (UP ICE).
The IM4ManilaBay Program is a two-year research undertaking led by Dr. Ariel C. Blanco, with funding support from the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).
“The program aims to characterize Manila Bay and its watershed and linked environments to provide information for policy formulation/reviews, rehabilitation/treatment, and management through water quality monitoring and mapping, hydrodynamic and hydrologic modelling, and dredge materials and solid waste management,” the agency said.
The Program was initially proposed in response to a call for a collaborative effort to rehabilitate Manila Bay, as echoed during the Battle for Manila Bay campaign launched in January 2019.
Prior to the launching of the campaign, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DEDNR recorded extremely high fecal coliform levels from different water quality monitoring stations.
But most recent data shows that coliform levels have “drastically decreased” just a year after rehab efforts. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu reported in January 2020 that fecal coliform count at the Padre Faura outfall is now at 920,000 most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100ml) from last year’s record of 7.21 million mpn/100ml. From pre-rehabilitation record of 35 million mpn/100ml at the Raja Soliman/Remedios drainage outfall, coliform level went down to 11 million mpn/100ml. Fecal coliform levels give a general indication of the water condition in Manila Bay — the higher the count, the higher the water contamination is.
PCIEERD said that IM4ManilaBay Program is correspondingly instrumental and contributory to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 16 Series of 2019, “Expediting the Rehabilitation and Restoration of the Coastal and Marine Ecosystem of the Manila Bay and Creating the Manila Bay Task Force,” and the 2008 Supreme Court Mandamus ordering various government agencies to “clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”
Based on the mentioned data, however, there is still a long way to go to reach the standard fecal coliform level of 100 mpn/100ml for its supposed Class SB classification. This shows that the rehabilitation of Manila Bay goes beyond clean up drives, and sustainable solutions backed up by scientific data must be established and institutionalized.
Four component projects have been ongoing since the first quarter of 2020.
IWASTO (Integrated Waste Analysis, Survey and Technological Options) led by Dr. Maria Antonia N. Tanchuling. The project aims to describe and assess the solid waste management (SWM) activities in communities that are part of the Manila Bay watershed. It also intends to set up appropriate waste utilization technologies to process biodegradable and plastic wastes in selected communities. SWM information, such as waste characteristics and available facilities, will also be systemized and made available to the general public.
MapABLE (Development of Integrated Mapping, Monitoring, and Analytical Network System for Manila Bay and Linked Environments) led by Dr. Ariel C. Blanco. The project aims to develop and deploy an integrated system for mapping and monitoring the water quality of Manila Bay and linked systems, including major tributary rivers, using geospatial technologies and citizen science.
CharTeD DreaM (Management of Dredged Material: Characterization, Treatment, and Disposal) is led by Engr. Reynaldo L. Esguerra. The project aims to provide technology for the management and utilization of dredged materials collected from Tullahan-Tinajeros River System. The dredged materials will undergo characterization, pre-treatment, chemical treatment, and immobilization studies. Design of pilot treatment facility will be developed for the utilization of treated dredged materials into concrete aggregates.
E-SMART (Eco-system Modeling and Material Transport Analysis for the Rehabilitation of Manila Bay) led by Dr. Eugene C. Herrera. The project aims to streamline solution interventions for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay through hydrodynamic and material transport analysis of the integrated Manila Bay-Pasig River-Laguna Lake and surrounding watersheds system using numerical modeling.
Project MapABLE is being implemented by UP TCAGP; Projects IWASTO and e-SMART by UP ICE; and Project CharTeD DreaM by DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI).