Sanitation is of great importance to the people of San Fernando City, La Union. However, a recent sampling of drinking water wells showed widespread contamination, endangering large areas of the city with water-borne bacteria. Many people want to desludge their septic tanks, but the cost is one of the highest in the country as septage is transported to Baguio City for proper treatment. Because of the cost and distance, improper septage disposal onto land or into waterways is common. This leads to increased pollution of the environment, which impacts health, fisheries, and other economic opportunities.
The project will improve sanitation in San Fernando City, La Union Province in line with the Clean Water Act by providing:
- A septage management program to properly maintain septic tanks
- A sewage treatment system for an urban neighborhood
- Improved local policies
- Effective promotion campaign to encourage support and cooperation
The Philippine Sanitation Alliance (PSA), supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with Rotary International, are addressing these issues through the USAID-Rotary San Fernando City Sewerage and Septage Management Project. This project is collaborating on the ground with the local government of San Fernando, Sustainable Cities, AECOM, and the Rotary Club of San Fernando to develop improved sanitation systems that will benefit residents.
The project will focus on three areas:
Septage management. The project will fund the construction of a septage treatment facility that will be used by city government and private sector desludgers. As septage treatment will be done locally instead of in Baguio, the cost of desludging septic tanks will be reduced by almost 50%. In addition, the program will result in fewer incidents of illegal septage discharge, less pollution entering the environment, and a healthier community.
Sewerage system development. To address the issue of groundwater contamination, the project will pilot test a full sewage treatment system (pipes for sewage collection and a sewage treatment plant) in an urban poor neighborhood within San Fernando City. The sewerage component will demonstrate effective, low-cost technologies that other communities, subdivisions and businesses may use to address their own wastewater issues.
Private sector opportunities. The program will engage private sector desludgers, engineers, plumbers and contractors to work with the city government to achieve the goals of the project. This public-private-partnership will result in significantly more business opportunities for the private sector as septic tanks are desludged, and homes and businesses upgrade their sanitary facilities over time. The project will work with local Rotary clubs, the city government, and other government and nongovernment partners to achieve these goals. It will be implemented from January 2010 to June 2011.
- Regular desludging of septic tanks and proper treatment and disposal of the septage
- Construction of a septage treatment facility near the landfill
- Purchase of a vacuum truck for the city to desludge city-owned septic tanks
- Installation of a sewerage system for a targeted community in the urban core of the city
- Enhanced business opportunities for private sector desludgers, engineers, plumbers and contractors