BONTOC, Mountain Province – Regional environment officials disclosed there has been high fecal choliform that was documented in the Chico river, the main river system in this landlocked province, that warrants the concerted actions from concerned government agencies and local governments to prevent the pollution in the said water system.
Ralph Pablo, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR), attributed the presence of high fecal choliform in the Chico river to the animal and human waste being directly dumped by residents in the river system.
“We will provide the local governments in Mountain Province with the quarterly water quality monitoring report so that local officials will be updated on the state of the water quality in the different bodies of water within their jurisdiction so that they will be able to help in crafting policies in the local level that will help in abating the pollution in the region’s major river system,” Pablo stressed.
The DENR-CAR reported to the first quarter joint meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) that owners of piggeries should start constructing their septic tanks that conform with the standards prescribed by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to prevent them from directly disposing the animal waste to the river system.
Further, he added that residences and commercial establishments must also have their own septic tanks to avoid the direct connection of their sewerage system to the Chico river to help in efforts by the concerned government agencies and the local governments to reduce the pollutants in the river system.
According to him, local officials must start monitoring the compliance of owners of piggeries, residential houses and commercial establishments to the requirement for them to construct their own septic tanks in strategic areas to prevent animal and human waste from being directly dumped to the Chico river which resulted to the presence of high fecal choliform that pose a serious threat to the health of the people.
However, Pablo allayed the fear of tourism industry stakeholders that the high fecal choliform of the water in the Chico river might affect the growth of the white water rafting in the lower portion of the river system, saying that water has its natural filtration process that as it flows to a certain distance, the pollutants are being neutralized, thus, the high fecal choliform recorded in the upper portion of the river will not be as high compared to the presence of choliform in the lower portion.
Earlier Paulino Tumapang, private sector representative of mountain Province to the RDC-CAR, inquired from DENR-CAR officials on the state of the water quality of the Chico river, especially on the alleged presence of high mercury ad cyanide levels because of reported illegal small-scale mining operations upstream, but Pablo claimed that the mercury and cyanide levels recorded in the river are still within standards and it is the fecal choliform that is considered to be alarming and way beyond the prescribed standards.