Sanitation crisis imminent in Davao

Subscribe Now August 31, 2015 at 08:59am

Foreign interns for a masters degree working with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) and the Hydrology for Environment Life and Policy (HELP) Davao Network have emphasized earlier warnings of an imminent urban sanitation crisis in the city.

“... [W]ith nearly all wastewater released into nature without treatment... [an] [u]rban sanitation crisis is imminent in Davao City,” said Oloko Kayode, a student of Masters in Environmental Engineering from Finland, during Wednesday’s regular council session where he presented a study conducted by a group of students, including himself, from the University of Oulu, Finland.

“The lack of proper sanitation is also a constraint on economic growth,” Mr. Kayode added, noting the costs due to water-related diseases and environmental degradation in the city.

The leading disease in the areas covered by the study is diarrhea with residents of 10 out of 45 households getting the illness.

The group’s study of the city’s domestic wastewater, titled “Assessment of the Water Situation and the Safety of Wastewater and Sanitation in Selected Parts of Davao City,” shows that there are numerous households near rivers, the sea and canals that do not have septic tanks and their toilet tanks are directly connected to the rainwater drainage system.

“Overflows from septic tank goes directly to the canals, ending up in the rivers or the sea,” Mr. Kayode said.

Councilor Marissa S. Abella, chair of the committee on agriculture and food, said the study has been referred to the proper committees for further review.

The sanitation crisis threat continues to hound the city even with the passage of the Septage and Sewerage Management Ordinance of Davao City in 2010. The ordinance requires septic tanks to be emptied every five years by accredited services providers.

The students’ survey indicate that there are only three septic tank cleaning companies accredited by the City Health Office and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office. These companies reported an average of 33 customers every month.

Councilor Leonardo R. Avila III, author of the ordinance, noted that the passage of the local law was in response to Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directive after his attention was called by the Department of Health on the state of Davao City’s waters.

As early as 2006, the Environmental Management Bureau already warned that water samples in nine out of 15 beaches tested in the city failed to pass quality standards.

Another student intern, Sean Ligtvoet, suggested the construction of a composting toilet as a possible solution to the city’s urban sanitation problem.

The compost toilets, which are commonly used in Finland and the United States, can also be used to convert waste to fertilizer and even energy.

“This is a simple and affordable technology that can help the city address its problems,” Mr. Ligtvoet said.


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