Dumaguete was one of the four cities involved in the USAID Local Initiatives for Affordable Wastewater Treatment (LINAW) project, which ran for two years from 2003-2005. The city government was ready to take action on addressing water pollution because they were aware of the high level of pollution of their coastal waters. Testing done during the earlier USAID-funded Coastal Resources Management Project showed the fecal coliform level in the coastal waters off Rizal Boulevard to be 22 times the allowable standard. At the beginning of the LINAW project, the city decided that building a wastewater treatment facility for their public market was their top priority.
The treatment plant is a replication of the Philippines’ first low-cost public market treatment plant, which was built in Muntinlupa City with assistance from LINAW. Wetland plants provide the final stage of treatment, and are attracting birds and butterflies to the park where it is located. It is a low-maintenance system that uses a minimum amount of electricity and mechanical parts. The plant is operating very efficiently, producing a good quality effluent far below DENR standards. A laboratory test done in February 2008 showed a BOD level of 15 mg/l (the maximum allowable is 50 mg/l). The system was built and inaugurated in June 2007 (during phase 2 of the LINAW project). The city hired the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) to do the engineering design and construction oversight, and PSA provided technical assistance. The treatment system is now a magnet for other cities and municipalities all over the country to visit and replicate.
The city’s second priority was to develop a city-wide system to desludge septic tanks and build a treatment facility for the sludge (which is required by the Clean Water Act). The city developed and passed an ordinance requiring proper septic tank design and desludging in 2006, and signed an MOU with the water district so that a fee of P2/cubic meter of water used will be collected by the water district to fund the program. The city also implemented an innovative public information campaign to encourage city residents to check their septic tanks and have them desludged regularly. Construction of the treatment facility plant was undertaken from 2009 to 2010 and the facility was inaugurated on April 22, 2010. See more information below.
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