The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pitching calls on the importance of water recycling by maintaining reliable and effective wastewater treatment, as it leads a weeklong activity to highlight the celebration of the World Water Day (WWD) on March 22.
The DENR, together with the River Basin Coordinating Office, the National Water Resources Board and the Ayala-led Manila Water Co. Inc., has lined up a series of activities to commemorate the event aimed at raising awareness on the importance of water recycling.
Untreated wastewater discharge is a serious environmental issue. The Laguna de Bay, one of the country’s largest freshwater lake, is heavily polluted, owing to wastewater draining to the lake. Rivers, particularly in highly urbanized area, are also polluted partly because of discharge of untreated wastewater from households and industries.
Under the watch of Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez, the agency mandated to manage the country’s environment and natural resources, is underscoring the need to protect watersheds against destructive development projects—particularly mining—to ensure water security and prevent future supply shortage.
As a kickoff to WWD, a photo exhibit highlighting the importance of both water and wastewater was opened on Wednesday at the Market! Market! Shopping Mall in Taguig City. The exhibit is open to the public until Friday, March 17.
The photo exhibit showcases vivid images depicting the negative ecological and health impacts of untreated wastewater, as well as the various efforts of government and the private sector to address the problem, consistent with the WWD 2017 theme: “Water and Wastewater”.
In a news statement, DENR Assistant Secretary for Staff Bureaus Nonita Caguioa said this year’s theme aims to highlight the symbiosis between water and wastewater in the quest for sustainable development.
Wastewater is a valuable resource in the circular economy and its safe management could be an efficient investment in the health of humans and ecosystems, Caguioa said.
“Treated wastewater can act as a drought-resistant source of water, especially for agriculture and industry, source of nutrients for agriculture, soil conditioner and source of energy or heat,” she added.
“In effect, wastewater management is a key to poverty reduction for it sustains ecosystems services. It improves food security, health and, ultimately, the economy,” Caguioa added. Untreated, she said wastewater can cause environmental damage and serious health problems.
Wastewater contains a number of pollutants and contaminants such that when discharged to freshwater bodies and marine waters without being treated, can cause water pollution that is harmful to aquatic life.
When discharged on lands, wastewater can leach into underground water tables and potentially contaminate aquifers and underground water.
Wastewater is also a big health issue as it carries and transports a myriad of diseases and illnesses.
According to the World Health Organization, about 2.2 million people die each year worldwide from water-related diseases, mostly children in developing countries.
WWD is an international event designated by the United Nations General Assembly. It is held annually on March 22 to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to promote the sustainable management of freshwater resources.