Waster Water Treatment Issue in Tagbilaran

Open Letter sent to the Bohol Chronicle

Dear Editor:

I am writing the Bohol Chronicle in response to its editorial last Sunday, 28 Sept 2008: THE TRIUMPH OF THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. The real triumph is when the pollution is gone. The voice of the people will always fbe air and square.

If we call the 38 “connected” establishments illegal, I believe the non-connected water users (of course wastewater dischargers, too) are already “fugitives”, including the very establishment Bohol Chronicle is operating.

Why? In environmental parlance, there are two sources of pollution: the NON-POINT and the POINT sources. Non-point are sources of pollution that can hardly be determine where it come from and where its pathways are. Point sources are the pollution where its origins and pathways are already known. What is known to both of them, however, is the harm they cause to the environment and to human beings. To prove my point, the 38 connections are the point sources while the rest of Tagbilaran inhabitants are the non-point sources. What makes the 38 known is because it is easy and convenient to pin-point them while what makes the non-point sources less talked-about because they are generic and anyone who pinpoint them can not help but also point to himself as one of them. Everybody, including your editorial did not try to examine the pollution and flooding of the city closely because we refuse to accept the Inconvenient Truth.

If we compute the volume of water the 38 connected uses compared to the rest of water users, I believe that they do not even reach 1% of the total wastewater that is disposed to the environment everyday! All of us, the DENR secretary who use one of the toilets during his visit, the city hall who is not yet connected to the sewer and even the governor who pride a wastewater treatment plant in the capitol but whose wastewater effluent is connected to the storm drainage and of course my parents and relatives in Mansasa , are just a few of the more than 99% non-point sources of pollution to our undergound and marine waters.

Are these 99% illegal? Yes, they are by any laws of nature but of course by virtue of the Philippines Clean Water Act. Now how can we celebrate of triumph? Cutting the 38 connections would remove the less than 1% point sources but definitely not the wastewater pollution.

How can we solve these predicament? Convert the 99% non point sources into point sources! CONNECT THEM TO THE DRAINAGE. Am I serious? Yes 100% sure. Connecting them and diverting them to the planned wastewater treatment plant in Taloto is the right solution the city mayor has embarked. How can the DENR issue such a totally contradicting order of cutting the connections and pushing the city for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Is cutting going to be a temporary thing and reconnect them back when the wastewater treatment plant is available? WHAT A WASTE OF PEOPLE’S MONEY TO CONCENTRATE ON THE 1% OF THE PROBLEM!

If this is the approach of the DENR because they said it is the law, then I can not argue further but after cutting the 38, I must demand to them further to continue doing so by going house to house to check and determine where their wastewaters are being discharged and cut them one by one if they are connected to the new drainage or to any waterways to the sea or to the underground. What difference does the new drainage and all other drainages in Tagbilaran makes?

In short the DENR approach is to shutdown Tagbilaran for the time being that the Wastewater Treatment Plant is not yet available! Is is this possible and doable? Is this the triumph of the voice of the people? Is this what we want?

Ok let’s go back to the 38. Do we really believe they are illegal, isn’t it that some of them operates before the drainage was built and when the drainage passed their streets, weren’t their original canals destroyed during the constructions and re-connected them conveniently to the new drainage? Is it the fault of these establishments that there place of business or residence happen to be in the streets where of the newly-built bohol circumferential road’s drainage was constructed? Are we fair to easily point our fingers to the point sources and not the non-point sources?

My comments above are environmentally technical logic. If you allow me next time, I can talk about financial indicators that cutting them is not good for both environment and economics.

Mabuhay!

CECIL CORLONCITO
City Environmental Consultant
Technical Project Manager
Environment Regulatory
Authority in Australia

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