P300-M project eyed for Davao River cleanup

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the city government have partnered to implement a P300-million project to clean up the Davao River, the main body of water in the city by using the vertical helophyte filter system.

This system has also been used, through the Small Enterprise Upgrading Program (Setup), in assisting the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in treating their waste water, said DOST Regional Director Anthony C. Sales yesterday.

Under the project with the city government, a 10-kilometer sanitary embankment will be built along the riverbank and that the communal comfort rooms of informal settlers will be connected to the embankment which will have a vertical helophyte filter system, a mechanism that separates effluents from water so that water free of bacteria can flow the river.

Sales said the project, which is set to be funded by the government’s People Survival Fund, is aimed at “controlling floods (with the use of the embankment) and implement a sanitation mechanism using the system,” a system developed by a water engineer from the Netherlands who assisted the agency in 2013.

This system, he added, can reduce critical bacteria in water, including the dreaded coliform, by between 90% and 95% percent. “This is how effective the technology,” he added, pointing out that after its 25-year lifespan, the wastes can be used as fertilizer.

At present, the agency has also been helping in setting up comfort rooms in villages near the river so that their wastes will go directly to the system.

Last month, based on the information from the city council, the local legislative body approved the project and is just being finalized.

The agency has also gotten a funding of P9 million for four other similar projects, including the city abattoir in Maa and that the funding came from the Philippine Council for Industry Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development, an attached agency of the DOST. The other beneficiaries of the project are a poultry farm, another small enterprise and a village.

After its development in 2013, with the Dutch expert helping the agency in customizing the need for MSMEs, the DOST adopted it to assist these small businesses through the 15-year old Setup, a program designed to help these businesses improve their productivity through innovation and upgraded standards.

A small business, Sales said, was provided with about P80,000 in funding to help it treat its waste water for 25 years, shifting from its old practice of setting up a septic tank and spending about P15 annually in taking out the wastes.

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