45 ‘esteros’ yield huge garbage pile
MANILA, Philippines–Garbage more than enough to fill three Olympic-size pools has been recovered from at least 45 esteros or waterways around Metro Manila during a month-long cleanup, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said yesterday.
MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino said the 30-day strategic and relentless cleanup campaign, dubbed as “August Estero Blitz,” retrieved some 7,383 cubic meters of trash from 45 waterways.
An Olympic-size swimming pool can hold at least 2,500 cu m of water.
“In a month’s time, we collected 1,150 truckloads of waste from 45 esteros, diversion channels and other waterways. Although this is just one-tenth of the siltation there, you can imagine the dire effect if this huge of volume of garbage continued to clog our drainage systems,” Tolentino said.
The refuse varied from human and kitchen waste to plastic bags, metal fragments, broken shoes and appliances.
The campaign started last Aug. 8 with the objective of cleaning up and dredging 69,766 meters of major creeks in Metro Manila that perennially cause flooding during the rainy season.
An offshoot of the MMDA’s “480 Minutes” cleanup activity on eight flood-prone areas in Metro Manila on July 24, the “Blitz” targeted two esteros a day in 16 cities and one municipality in the National Capital Region.
These include Estero de Quiapo, Estero de Vitas and the Manila portion of Tripa de Gallina and Sta. Clara creek.
MMDA workers also cleaned up and dredged San Juan River and its tributaries in San Juan and Quezon City, including Talayan creek near Araneta Avenue, whose waters easily swell and cause flooding during a heavy downpour.
In recognition of the MMDA employees’ hard work, Tolentino will hand them free rice packs on Monday during the flag ceremony.
“We’re hoping that local government units, including barangays, will regularly clean their waterways on their own. Households should likewise adopt proper waste disposal practices,” Tolentino said.
The MMDA and other agencies were required by the Supreme Court in the Manila Bay case to protect and preserve the country’s internal waters, rivers, shores, and seas polluted by human activities.
Clogged and silted waterways were pinpointed as one of the major causes of the catastrophic flooding brought about by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009, the most devastating typhoon to hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces. A total of 464 deaths were recorded after the typhoon’s onslaught.
As the drainage and waterways were clogged by garbage, their water carrying capacity was greatly reduced, significantly minimizing their capability to hasten the subsiding of floodwaters, according to Tolentino.
“Do not let another Ondoy teach us a bitter lesson. The success of our estero cleanup might be minimal, but its real objective is to awaken us to the reality that we have to care for our environment and clean our waterways,” the MMDA chief said.
He enjoined all local government units to strictly enforce easement laws which prohibit the erection of structures within a defined perimeter from the waterways.
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