LGU of Baguio commits to lead in Balili River rehab
The City Government of Baguio committed to take the lead in the rehabilitation of Balili River.
During the public consultation on the proposed re-classification of the river, Mayor Benjamin said Baguio City is the biggest polluter of the Balili River and will have to take responsibility for its rehabilitation.
“We would like to take the lead. We’re willing to pay P109 million or P120M a year just to rehabilitate (the river) para ‘pag napunta sa inyo ‘yung tubig, malinis. Responsibilidad namin ‘yan,” Magalong said.
He said almost 60 percent of the waste water from the city flows to the river. Some households are still undisciplined in discharging their wastes. Some pollutants come from illegal settlers directing their waste water to the river, and the market has no Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP).
“I would like to apologize on behalf of the City of Baguio, for polluting your river. But this time, we’re going to do something about it. Nobody, no one can stop us from cleaning that river,” Magalong said.
He added the city government is doing something about it but it is still not enough, which is why there is a need for the approval of their proposed project.
He said the city plans to pilot the alarm system prior to the onset of a typhoon. The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council will ring the alarm and all residents must bring out their garbage for collection to avoid dumping it during the onslaught of a typhoon.
The Balili River covering Baguio City, La Trinidad, and Sablan was designated as Water Quality Management Area in 2013.
Based on the five-year monitoring data of the Environmental Management Bureau-Cordillera, there is a high concentration of fecal coliform in the Balili River reaching trillions.
EMB-Cordillera Director Ma. Victoria Abrera said this indicates the presence of overflowing septic tanks, absence of sanitary toilet, and presence of unauthorized and discharge of domestic animal wastes.
Concerned LGUs and the multi-sectoral stakeholders for years now have initiated efforts to save and revitalize the biggest river system in Baguio and Benguet.
“The management of the environment is a shared responsibility of all the local government units, of the constituents within its particular territorial jurisdiction,” La Trinidad Vice Mayor Roderick Awingan said.
He said aside from continuous implementation of different interventions to save Balili River, the process is ongoing for the establishment of a four-hectare STP within the property of Benguet State University.
Sablan Mayor Manuel Munar also expressed support to rehabilitation activities for the Balili River and commits their assistance for the continuous conduct of clean up drives. – Debbie E. Gasingan