February 9, 2023

Aside from air quality, the city’s water quality also benefitted from the eight-week restrained human activity during the enhanced community quarantine.

City Environment and Parks Management Officer-in-Charge Rhenan Diwas said since the start of the ECQ, they have observed an improvement in the wastewater influent and effluent of the 34-year-old Baguio Sewerage Treatment Plant (BSTP).

Diwas said the influent and effluent not only significantly decreased but also became compliant with the water quality standards of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Based on the water test result conducted by the Cepmo-Wastewater, Water and Air Monitoring Division (WAMD), the wastewater influent (raw) in February reached almost the maximum level at 8,557.18 m3/day but suddenly dropped to 4,369. 97 m3/day in March.

The wastewater quality also improved and now falls within the standards set under DENR Administrative Order 1990-35 (Effluent Standards for Different Water Quality Parameters) and DAO 2016-08 (Water Quality Guidelines and General Effluent Standards). Samples taken in January and February failed the DENR standards.

Diwas attributed the improvement to decreased population as most tourists, university students (boarders), and migrant workers left the city at the onset of the ECQ.

He noted the city was packed with tourists in February who anticipated the 25th staging of Panagbenga, which was eventually cancelled due to the threat of the coronavirus disease-2019.

“Likewise, the closure of majority of the commercial activities (restaurants) and limited operation of the public market and the slaughterhouse contributed to the less turbid wastewater discharges,” Diwas said.

He said while population and economic activities are the major factors of environmental pollution, these too are forces that boost the city’s economy.

He suggested measures to balance human activities and environmental sustainability.

He said the city should pursue the rehabilitation and upgrading of the BSTP to expand its coverage to other barangays, continue the rehabilitation of sewer lines and improve septage management system, which include additional septage facility.

Diwas also suggested for the city to rehabilitate the public market and construct its own sewerage facility, to transfer the slaughterhouse outside the central business district, and to include a sewerage facility for animal waste and others.

“Most importantly, discipline must be instilled among the populace. Change should begin within ourselves,” he said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo