Managing Iloilo River Towards Biodiversity and Sustainability

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Problem: Problem focused on observed contamination of the Iloilo River which could threaten the quality of water and conditions of living of plants and animals, as well as human beings residing in its riverbanks. Emergence of the problem was probably caused by households, businesses, and industries indiscriminately dumping their garbage, sewage, and waste into the river.

Methods: Research design was quasi-experimental in nature, using mixed methods of analysis leading towards awareness and advocacy interventions to generate sustainability of projects and programs towards managing pollution prevention and control and rehabilitation of the Iloilo River. Qualitative analysis included survey, content analysis, interventions, narratives, ethnographic studies, and focus group discussions. Quantitative methods involved undertaking an initial assessment survey to identity sources, measures, responses, and public-private sector participation in managing the problem of pollution. Analyses of water quality were done on site for pH, temperature, salinity, total suspended solids, biological oxygen demand, and dissolved oxygen. Laboratory was conducted to measure heavy metal contents of water, including lead and cadmium. Biodiversity assessments were done on identification and density of mangroves and the identification of fauna thriving along the river. After interventions, reassessment was conducted to determine changes in sources, measure, responses, and public-private sector participation, including water analyses and biodiversity assessment. Correlation of variables was computed, including the initial assessment and reassessment findings.

Findings: Initial assessment results revealed that majority of respondents identified household sources of pollution consisted of sewerage outlets, septic tanks, and water in open canals flowing into the river. Agricultural sources of pollution included location of piggeries, poultry farms, and chicken pens, sludge and mud, fertilizers and pesticides, storage tanks, and land and water transportation fuel leaking into the river. However, only a minority pointed out industrial sources from disposal of industrial wastes, hospital and clinic wastes, fish processing wastes, and animal wastes and by-products from meat markets and slaughter houses.

Measures for pollution prevention and control reported by the majority included formulation of ordinances or resolution, participation in solid waste management movement, planning responses to pollution threats, collection, segregation, and waste discharge activities, scheduling river clean-up, creation of garbage patrol, monitoring of garbage disposal, and formulating and carrying out corrective measures ensuring river clean-up.

Mean levels of trace metals and physico-chemical characteristics of water samples are within the DENR-DAO 34 and WHO limits during high and low tides. Water is not generally polluted continuing analyses should still be undertaken due to population increase and infrastructure development.

Mangroves consisted of 22 species belonging to 10 families. Avecennia is dominant species thriving in 21 barangays. Only 22 barangays have existing mangroves currently threatened by accumulated rubbish from food establishments, wastes from hospitals and hotels, boat rumps, and infrastructure activities of private owners and other businesses. Mangrove growth was disturbed by unnecessary sediments and dredge materials suffocating the special roots receiving oxygen.

Majority indicated the responses to pollution prevention and control problems required policy on protecting people from pollution threats, prioritizing health and environment for sustainable development, recognizing existence of pollution problem, specifying objectives related ordinance, spelling out major steps for objective attainment, ordering and timing of steps, investigating the location, extent, cause, and effect of pollution, undertaking...
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