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Social preparation started for septage mgt. program

THE Davao City Water District has started social preparation initiatives for the Septage Management Program which is set to be implemented next year.

Jovana Cresta Duhaylungsod, spokesperson of the utility, said it has started distributing information materials about the program, a joint venture with the city government, and proper septage practices, as ”we need to make the people understand that they have to be ready for this,” Duhaylungsod said.

She added that there have also been dialogs between the implementing body and the residents as the two entities signed the memorandum of agreement on July 1.

The program, which will have five “odor-free and noise-free” treatment plants based on Department of Health regulations, is for the desludging of wastewater from households once every five years, the treatment of collected waste water in a septage treatment plant, and the proper disposal of waste water and biosolids. 

All the investment requirements will be shouldered by the water district, which in 2019, bared that the actual investment would be at P300 million. However, in the latest program, the first treatment plant, which will be set up in Indangan and will cover the northern areas, will need P242 million to implement, and is scheduled to start operating in the third quarter of 2023.

The water district has yet to release the total capital expenditures required for the implementation of the entire program.

Aside from making the people understand the importance of the program, Duhaylunsod said that residents “also need to prepare their septic tanks because based on the study, not everyone in the city has a septic tank, while those with septic tanks they do not meet the standards yet.”

Under the standard septic tanks, water and solid wastes must be separately stored, while those that are not but have two chambers can still be used provided that they have concrete floors and that waste water does not seep into the soil.

The information campaign is also directed at pushing residents to change their attitude in septage management from “unless full, collection is not done” to “a regular collection system because of the (impact of the wastes on the environment and the people,” she added.

Another component of the information drive is the survey of households on their readiness in adopting the program so that data can be generated for the action plans to address the gaps, she added.

The city government has prepared an ordinance for its implementation which, among others, will task the City Health Office as its enforcement arm, as this function is part of the agreement that the two entities signed.

Being the enforcement arm, the office will also be authorized to serve notice either of compliance and non-compliance. 

On the septage management fee, the amount will be determined following the “same process as water rate adjustment” like public hearing, approval by the Local Water Utilities Administration and other processes before this is implemented.

The briefer added that the city needs the facility “considering the rapid increase in population and the consequent increase in domestic and industrial wastewater.”

“Regular monitoring of Davao City’s Talomo River and Davao River increasing levels of fecal coliform which comes from human and animal wastes and an indicator of fecal contamination that causes water borne diseases. If the coliform content is high, it means that the quality of the water is already dangerous in the Davao Gulf. Inadequately treated wastewater is the major source of water pollution,” it added.

It also cited some studies “showing that open defecation is still being practiced in the urban and rural areas due to the absence of toilets and/or septic tanks. In the national level, septic tanks are undersized and do not conform to the standards prescribed by the Department of Health.”

“Poorly constructed septic tanks allow excreta (feces and urine) to infiltrate down to the ground, which can easily contaminate groundwater,” it pointed out as the city government passed Septage and Sewerage Management Ordinance of Davao City in 2010 and the Clean Water Act of 2004 as the bases for the program.

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