East Zone concessionaire Manila Water began to activate its Adopt-an-Estero program with various interventions to clean up San Juan River beginning at Maytunas and Ermitanyo Creeks in Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan City. The program is in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government of San Juan City. It will be recalled that a landmark Memorandum of Agreement to rehabilitate San Juan River was signed in late September of last year with Manila Water, DENR and the three other local government units where the river traverses namely: San Juan City, Mandaluyong and Quezon City.
As part of the concessionaire’s contribution to support the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, Manila Water adopted to clean up San Juan River and its tributaries-creeks, said to be one of the most polluted rivers within the East Zone. Manila Water activated a flow improvement strategy at Ermitanyo Creek to ensure that water along the creek will flow all year round, even during the dry season. The kick-off celebration was capped by the dropping of ‘Mabuhay balls’ along Maytunas Creek. Mabuhay Balls are a mixture, formed into balls, which are infused with microorganisms that will eat harmful bacteria. These will help combat the bad odor emanating from the creeks and decrease the coliform count.
“We have activated a series of technical and non-technical interventions that will rehabilitate the tributary creeks of San Juan River. We believe that a combination of social and engineering approaches will augur well for the restoration of the waterway. We have always believed that community participation is key in sustaining clean rivers and waterways, said Manila Water President and CEO Jose Rene Almendras.
Almendras further explained that based on studies, the sad state of the San Juan River can be traced to four creeks that drain into the river namely: Maytunas, Ermitanyo, Buhangin and Buayang Bato Creeks, which are considered as the dirtiest among the tributaries discharging into the river. “It is important that we tailor-fit technical strategies for each tributary because of the differing conditions. However, a common strategy would be to ensure that stakeholders take part in ensuring that the various interventions and clean-up activities are sustained,” Almendras added.
Also attending the event is Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Roy Cimatu who expressed his appreciation for this important environmental initiative, stressing that the Adopt-an-Estero program of Manila Water is perfectly aligned with the government’s mission to clean up Manila Bay, particularly through the esteros and waterways. He emphasized the need not only to clean-up Manila Bay itself, but more importantly, all the rivers and tributaries that eventually drain into Manila Bay if only to ensure the sustainability of the rehabilitation efforts.
In his message, Mayor Francis Zamora said San Juan City takes pride in being the home of Metro Manila’s water reservoir from the Spanish occupation with El Deposito and up to now with Manila Water.
“As the heart of Metro Manila, we are also surrounded by tributaries and creeks, the arteries and veins of the National Capital Region’s water system. San Juan is indeed a city deeply encompassed with water, not just as a resource but also as part of its history and culture. We welcome this worthwhile endeavor with Manila Water and the DENR in cleaning our river and esteros so we can proudly claim that San Juan is not just a smart but also an environmentally friendly city,” said Mayor Zamora.
Besides Manila Water President and CEO Jose Rene Almendras, DENR Secretary, Roy Cimatu and San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, also joining the ceremonial Mabuhay Balls dropping activity were MWSS-RO Chief Regulator Patrick Ty, MWSS-CO Deputy Administrator Ronald Abrigo, Manila Water Chief Operating Officer Abelardo Basilio, and other Manila Water officials and community representatives.
Other interventions which are part of the commitments in the Adopt-an-Estero Project include bacteria-based river water treatment through biological augmentation in the creek allowing the regular flow of movement of water in the creek, regular desludging activities, provision of cleaning tools for the series of clean-up drives and program, , periodic water quality monitoring, among others.