Like most public hospitals in the country, the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital had a septic tank, but no full sewage treatment system as required by law. Polluted effluent from the septic tank flowed into a nearby irrigation canal and then into Laguna Lake, the country’s largest lake and source of livelihood for poor fisherfolk and local industries. The lake, like many water bodies in the country, is affected by rapid urbanization and lack of sewage treatment infrastructure. Approximately 90% of sewage produced in the country is not properly treated, thus polluting waterways and causing significant health hazards that lead to about 55 deaths each day.
The USAID Philippine Sanitation Alliance (PSA), a Global Development Alliance project, has been working with private and public sector partners in the Philippines to develop sustainable sanitation solutions to address the country’s water pollution challenges. With technical assistance from the PSA, the Sta. Rosa City government and stakeholders from civil society and the private sector created an action plan to develop wastewater treatment plants for the city’s public hospital, market, and low-cost housing project. From 2008-2009, PSA assisted the city to build a low-cost, low-maintenance sewage treatment plant for the hospital. The treatment system benefits more than 1,200 people by fully treating the sewage generated from the hospital’s toilets, sinks, laundry and kitchen.
When asked about the impact of the new facility, Chief Nurse Shiela Casis said, “We are now assured that the wastewater coming from sinks, toilets and bathrooms are safe to discharge to nearby streams.” “We don’t smell the foul odor in our sink as we have experienced before,” added Nutritionist-Dietician Head Fermina Ancita.
Laboratory testing done in November 2009 of the effluent coming out of the treatment plant showed a biochemical oxygen demand of 21 mg/l, well below the government’s standard of 50 mg/l. The system does not accept hazardous and toxic hospital waste. The city spent about $114,000 to build the facility, and received training and capacity building assistance from the PSA on the design, construction, operations and maintenance of the system.
The PSA is also providing technical assistance to the Philippine Department of Health’s (DOH) Region IV-A office, which includes Sta. Rosa in its jurisdiction. PSA engineers provided training and design assistance to DOH to build low-cost, low-maintenance sewage treatment plants for the Laguna Provincial Hospital and the Dr. Jose Rizal Memorial Hospital. The DOH plans to build wastewater treatment plants for the other hospitals in the region as part of its Health Facilities Enhancement Program and commitment to comply with the Clean Water Act of 2004.
Click here to download the Sta. Rosa Wastewater Treatment for Hospitals success story.