A preliminary meeting to comply with the instruction of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu in reducing the coliform count in Manila Bay waters near the Navotas Fishport area was held on 02 August 2021 at the office of Director William P. Cuñado, the EMB Bureau Director and concurrent Regional Director of EMBNCR.
EMB Regional Director Martin Jose Despi who presided the meeting eked out important data from the three pillars of EMBNCR : Engr Jean Borromeo, the Chief of Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement Division, Engr. Wilma Uyaco, the Chief of Clearances and Permitting Division, Engr. Florence Velasquez, the Chief of Finance and Administrative Division together with Planning and EEIU Staff.
According to Engr. Divina Camarao there are 71 identified industries operating along the banks of Navotas River. Said industries comprising 30% of all locators will be inspected and monitored, in terms of their compliance to the environmental laws implemented by EMB. It is alleged that some of these industries drain their effluents to the river untreated.
It was also identified that the source of the high coliform count are the discharges from the septic tanks of the identified industries. Engr Uyaco mentioned that septic tanks cannot treat the domestic wastewater to within DENR standards. Small industries cannot afford to put up more advanced treatment and hence compelling them to do so may put EMB in bad light.
One of the options to resolve the high coliform count of the Navotas River is to put up a communal treatment facility. Engr. Florence Velasquez then recommended the inclusion in the Action Plan of the MANATUTI WQMA, the construction of a common Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) for the domestic effluent of small-scale business establishments within the area. Engr. Velasquez further recommended that the collected fines and penalties accumulated in the National Water Quality Management Fund be tapped to finance the construction of the STP , the LGU of Navotas shall serve as the proponent of the project, it being a part of the WQMA Governing Board. RD Despi mentioned that a draft Board Resolution be presented to the WQMA Governing Board for approval and later for submission to the DBM for approval. Navotas LGU would identify the possible location of the STP and be requested to provide additional counterpart funding for the project.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of Manila Yacht Club will be reviewed whether or not issuance of CNC granted is still pertinent. The club existed prior to 1982 which make it a CNC holder, however any modification or expansion of the club after 1982 will render its CNC inappropriate.
The desire of Secretary Cimatu to reduce the coliform count of Navotas river and Manila Yacht Club is in line with the DENR’s Program for “Battle of Manila Bay.” The program which was launched on 27 January 2019 aims to bring back the glory of Manila Bay by turning its water quality into Class SB fit for contact recreation, skin diving bathing and swimming.