DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu has stood firm on his push for the Manila Bay beach nourishment project, saying the criticisms against the project are largely political.
“Sadly, there are those who want us to stop the beach nourishment for reasons that are better political rather than environmental. We are not bothered; we have nothing to fear as long as we know that we are doing something good. The dolomite sand we used is not harmful,” Cimatu said during the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day at the Manila Bay last Saturday.
He assured, however, that DENR will comply with any writ of mandamus the Supreme Court may issue, and with the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte who favors the Manila Bay clean up to restore its water quality to a level fit for swimming.
“We are cleaning up not just the coast but also the trash, the garbage so it will not liter the shoreline. The priority in the Manila Bay rehabilitation is the coastal cleanup and water quality improvement,” he stressed.
One other urgent issue is the resettlement of informal settlers along the esteros and Pasig River who throw their wastes mindlessly in the creeks and river which end up in the waters of Manila Bay.
The most difficult part of the problem, Cimatu said, is educating and changing the public mindset on proper waste disposal.
Among the DENR’s accomplishments in the Manila Bay by the DENR so far are the installation of the first solar-powered sewage treatment plant in the baywalk area which can clean 500,000 liters of dirty water daily. The coliform level in various sections of the bay is now down to hundreds of thousand as compared to millions when they started the rehabilitation.
“In the baywalk area, the coliform level used to be 90 million. Now it’s down to 920,000 and this means it is not yet fit for swimming),” he said, adding the DENR is set to build other treatment plants for the Paranaque, Tullahan-Tinejeros, and the Las Pinas-Zapote Rivers as all of these go into the bay.
He shared that more treatment plants are still underway as the two private concessionaires have committed to put up sewage treatment plants of their own while other sub-plants in Metro Manila are also being built. When finished, the wastewater treatment capacity will be about 970,000 cubic meters per day, Cimatu said.