DENR opens first solar-powered sewage treatment plant in Manila Bay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 30) -- As part of the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) opened a solar-powered sewage facility in Manila Baywalk area on Thursday morning.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said that facility is the first of its kind in the country. It will treat water coming from three waterways in Malate, Manila area namely Padre Faura Drainage, Remedios Drainage, and Estero de San Antonio de Abad, before being discharged to Manila Bay.

The water treatment plant may process up to 500,000 liters of water at any given time and may store up to 2,000,000 liters of water in its tanks.

Based on the tests carried out on July 29, the coliform level of water that passed through the plant has significantly dropped - from around 3,000,000 MPN/100 milliliter (mL) to 770 MPN/100mL.

Cimatu said the DENR aims to achieve 200 MPN/100mL, which is a "swimmable" level.

"Let us see how the water treats itself," said Cimatu. "Kasi tini-treat din niya yung sarili niya eh. Kung wala na rin naman dumi na pumapasok, nagno-normalize by itself and we expect 200 yan MPN.”

[Translation: Because it is also treating itself. If nothing contaminates it, it normalizes on its own, and we can expect a 200 MPN.]

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be in-charge of the maintenance and operations of the water treatment plant.

“Now that the first STP (sewage treatment plant) of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program is finally operational, we are confident that this will help improve the quality of water being discharged to Manila Bay,” said MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim.

Cimatu said the DENR suspects that other than the three waterways, there could be more water outlets that discharge wastewater into Manila Bay.

" This is the same experience that we had in Boracay," he said. "Akala natin wala nang mga lumalabas sa pipes kasi na-plug na natin, merong ilang

nakatago pala na mga tubo. So we will be again employing the same methods we used in Boracay na titignan natin with this 1 1/2 kilometer stretch kung merong mga hidden or nakatago na tubo na papunta sa Manila Bay.”

[Translation: This is the same experience that we had in Boracay. We thought that nothing comes out of the pipes anymore because we plugged them, but there were hidden pipes somewhere. So, we will be again employing the same methods we used in Boracay, wherein we will check along this 1 ½ kilometer stretch if there are hidden pipes extending to Manila Bay.]

“So kung merong ganun na nangyayari, titignan naman namin yan and we'll penalize those companies and establishments na naglalabas dito sa Manila Bay," Cimatu warned.

[Translation: So if something like that is happening here, we will check that and we’ll penalize those companies and establishments who are excreting their wastes into Manila Bay.]

Cruise ships throwing garbage in Manila Bay?

Cimatu also alleged that cruise ships are dumping their waste into the water.

A number of cruise ships are currently anchored in Manila Bay to send their Filipino crews home.

"I have given them warning already, several weeks pa, nag-inspect ako dito may nakita akong garbage diyan eh," Cimatu said. "Eh sabi ko bakit sarado na lahat dito bakit may garbage pa? So ang speculations nila, galing sa mga ships, the cruise ships and other foreign ships na nandiyan na hindi pa nakakapag-dock. So these are the possible culprit."

[Translation: I have given them warning already, several weeks ago, I saw garbage when I inspected there. I was curious why there are still garbage visible with all establishments around are closed? So the speculation is they came from the ships, the cruise ships, and other foreign ships that are about to dock. So these are the possible culprits.]

Cimatu said he spoke to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to look into this.