BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong explained that the proposed rehabilitation of the city will not be as extensive as that of Boracay’s but focused principally on the rehabilitation of the city’s sewerage system and massive regreening.
The city chief executive disclosed he had initial meetings with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano where the two Cabinet officials will be bringing to the attention of President Rodrigo R. Duterte the possible issuance of the appropriate order mandating the partial rehabilitation of the city through the proposed 1-year moratorium on the put up of buildings and the cutting of trees in exchange for funds to implement the desired rehabilitation of the city’s existing sewerage system.
He admitted it will be difficult to totally close Baguio just like what happened to Boracay as it will be difficult to prohibit tourists coming to the city aside and also because the city is the gateway to other parts of the Cordillera.
“The rehabilitation of the city will primarily focus on our sewerage system and massive regreening and it will be impractical to close the city because of the said problems that would affect the whole city,” Magalong stressed.
He claimed that based on reports from the Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR), the pollution of the city’s rivers has reached alarming levels because only 12 percent of the houses are connected to the city’s sewerage treatment plant which has also exceeded its carrying capacity and it has leaks, among other problems requiring the same to undergo the needed rehabilitation.
According to him, the readings along the Balili river in terms of choliform level already reached over 1.6 billion most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliter while the recorded choliform level along the Bued river already reached 465 million MPN per 100 milliliter, both beyond the acceptable standards.
Magalong stated that aside from rehabilitating the Baguio sewerage treatment plant based in North Sanitary Camp, part of the proposed rehabilitation of the city’s sewerage system is the put up of the required facility in Lower Rock Quarry and 5 other plants in strategic areas in the city to address the pollution in the city’s river systems.
The mayor stipulated the local government must require all residential and commercial structures to be connected to the sewerage treatment plants to prevent them from directly discharging their waste water to the various river systems, one of the major causes of pollution in the different rivers in the city, aside from those coming from piggeries that directly discharge their waste to the different bodies of water around the city.
Currently, the Baguio sewerage treatment plant operates at 12,400 cubic meters daily, way above its normal operating capacity of only 8,600 cubic meters daily pursuant to its design, thus, the urgent need for rehabilitation considering the increase in the number of houses in the city which has reached over 90,000.
By Dexter A. See
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis