Wastes still being dumped into polluted Bulacan river

Published by rudy Date posted on April 1, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Apparently irked by the heavy pollution he saw in the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system in Bulacan, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza has ordered a thorough investigation into the continued dumping of wastes into the water channel, which was once branded as among the worst polluted places in the world.

Atienza specifically directed the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to look into the illegal dumping of wastes into the river system and file charges against local government officials found to have neglected their duties to protect it.

Atienza visited the Prenza Dam in Marilao town last weekend and led some 2,000 volunteers in cleaning up the area as part of the celebration of the Philippine Water Week and World Water Day.

Atienza, together with Marilao Mayor Epifanio Guillermo, Bulacan Rep. Reylina Nicolas and other DENR officials, saw how “enormous garbage” practically covered the Prenza Dam.

“The dam looks like an open dump,” Atienza said. “The solid wastes consisted primarily of household wastes coming from houses in upstream areas.”

“We must pinpoint responsibilities and file charges against local government officials who are not doing anything to perform their duties and enforce environmental laws,” he said.

Atienza declared that the pollution of the Marilao River has worsened since eight months ago.

He said the Philippines, being an archipelago, is blessed with abundant water resources, including 421 principal rivers, adding though that keeping them in good condition remains a big challenge.

“Garbage improperly disposed of in open sites contributes greatly to climate change. Climate change is caused by pollution. Garbage is one of the major sources of pollution,” he said.

The Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system has been identified as one of the country’s 50 endangered rivers due to heavy pollution.

DENR records show that it has consistently shown excess levels of heavy metals like chromium, cadmium and lead. It has also registered zero level of dissolved oxygen and high levels of organic pollution.

In 2007, the Blacksmith Institute named it as one of the 30 dirtiest places in the world. 

Its pollution was blamed primarily on heavy industries along its banks such as tanneries, textile factories, gold refineries, jewelry and electroplating firms, livestock and poultry farms, and other manufacturing plants.

Stretching up to 55 kilometers, the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system traverses through Sta. Maria, Marilao, Meycauayan and Obando towns and San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan, and the cities of Valenzuela and Caloocan in Metro Manila.

In May last year, the DENR declared the river system a Water Quality Management Area in line with the Philippine Clean Water Act (Republic Act 9275).

As such, the DENR set up a governing board responsible for formulating strategies in managing the river’s water quality. –-Katherine Adraneda with Dino Balabo, Philippine Star

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