Issue of April 16, 2017
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Cleaner Balili River seenthrough living green plants
by Julie G. Fianza / PIO

HERCULEAN TASK -- Efforts to clean up the Balili River from its headwaters in Baguio down to La Trinidad remain an insurmountable task, especially when residents whose houses near the river banks do not cooperate through proper waste management. -- Ofelia Empian



Plants just might be one of the solutions to lessening contaminants in the Balili River.

In the recent meeting of the Balili River technical working group, phytoremediation or the direct use of living green plants for removal, degradation, or containment of contaminants in soils, sludges, sediments, surface water, and groundwater have been proposed.

Patterned from observed capacity of plants with aesthetic value yet indigenous grasses and reed plants absorbing and maintaining soil and water cleanliness, the experiment led by the Watershed and Water Resource Research Center (WWRRC) lasts for six months in identified places in Baguio and Balili, La Trinidad. The research is part of a program for the Cordillera, Pangasinan, Isabela, and Zambales.

According to Wilhelmina Lagunila of the Environmental Management Bureau,  more researches are needed to determine if phytoremediation is a good solution aside from the experiment. 

A visit to a technological processing plant in Zambales is also planned for program duplication. In the meantime, water sampling will continue to determine levels of pollution along the tributaries of Balili River.

River patrol training will also be launched later this month.

Lagunila added  that the sewerage treatment plant, which would cater only to Baguio City Market and City Abattoir, will be constructed this month.

Also discussed during the meeting is for the technical working group to request the Department of Public Works and Highways to conduct an inventory of buildings that encroached on the riverside.

The group also agreed to conserve and propagate plants and other animals present in the river.

Balili River continues to be polluted because of indiscriminate dumping and discharge of solids, liquid, and hazardous wastes.

City Environment and Parks Management Office head Cordelia Lacsamana asked the local government units of Sablan and La Trinidad to strictly implement ordinances that aim to reduce pollution, not just at the Baguio side but also along tributaries.

To increase awareness on the public’s responsibility in preserving the environment, the TWG is also planning to conduct information and education campaign in schools and during barangay assemblies.

Penalties and reward schemes for violators and responsible citizens were also discussed during the meeting.

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