Cleanup of polluted  waters of Manila Bay under way

After Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources cleaned up Boracay after five months in 2018, President Duterte told him to clean up Manila Bay next. The secretary looked at the problem posed by Manila Bay, so many times bigger than Boracay, and told the President it would take over 10 years to accomplish the task of cleaning up the bay.

The pollution in the bay is the result of decades of neglect, starting with the millions of homes built along the streams and rivers that joined the Pasig as it flowed to Manila Bay. These millions of households poured their household wastes and their human sewage directly into the streams and into the Pasig river. Today, the waters of Manila Bay are deemed unfit for human contact.

In 2008, the Supreme Court, acting on a petition filed by the Concerned Citizens of Manila Bay, ordered the DENR and other government agencies to clean up the bay in ten years.

There are two concessioners supplying water to Metro Manila – Maynilad, serving the West Zone of the Greater Manila Area — portions of Manila, portions of Quezon City, portions of Makati, and Caloocan, Pasay, Paranaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas, and Malabon. Manila Water serves the East Zone – Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasig, Pateros San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, parts of Manila and Quezon City, several towns of Rizal.

Last month, Manila Water announced that it had started the construction of its 42nd sewage treatment plant at a cost of P4.2 billion. The plant is expected to be completed in 2024. Full sewer and sanitation coverage is expected by 2037.

Maynilad also announced last month that three new treatment plants, built at a cost of P7.15 billion, are due for completion this year Maynilad now has a total of 22 wastewater facilities. Full sewerage and sanitation coverage should be 100 percent by 2037.

The year 2037 is still a long way off in the future – 16 years. But after all these decades of suffering the pollution of the bay, we can wait a few more years to see a finally clean Manila Bay, worthy of being listed among the world’s most beautiful waters in the world today.