DENR inspects Tullahan River for upcoming dredging in line with Manila Bay rehab

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 18) — Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday conducted an aerial inspection at the Tullahan River in preparation for the upcoming dredging in line with the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

The 40-kilometer river, which stretches from Quezon City to Navotas City, is the longest of the 17 rivers bringing polluted water to Manila Bay. It disposes a high level of fecal bacteria to the bay, making the water unhealthy and a possible source of disease. The river's average coliform level is 500 million most probable number (MPN), far from the safe level of 200 MPN.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu led the inspection of the entire stretch of the Tullahan River, tracing the water flow from the mouth of the river to the upstream.

Cimatu noticed the rows of informal settlers near the river. DENR said 15,000 residents directly throw liquid and solid wastes to the water. There are also factories and commercial establishments, which the Bureau of Environmental Management will check

for possible violations.

"Inspect, examination muna 'yan kung merong mga metal... Kasi naka-store na 'yan mga chemicals. Makikita namin mga nag-empty ng wastewater in the Tullahan River... 'Pag non-compliant, mataas coliform level, mataas pollution ay mabibigyan ng violation yun, either cease and desist order or notice of violation," the secretary said.

Cimatu said the river is also narrower than the ideal width of 15 meters.

At the estuary, the river looks as wide as 15 meters paving way for more water to flow, but in the upstream it's less than 10 meters.

Aside from relocating informal settlers, the agency aims to expand the river's width to 15 meters, and remove all the wastes by dredging.

In some portions, the river is stagnant--with water flowing to the opposite direction of the bay.

Cimatu pointed out the silt and garbage that settled in the riverbed.

"Ang problema d'yan may sakit tao dyan kung hindi malinisan 'yung river at kung bababa na sa dagat tuloy coliform level pupunta sa Manila Bay 'yan," he said.

San Miguel Corporation has pledged its help in dredging the Tullahan River and is already working on a plan to hopefully begin the project, which might last for a year. Other private corporations have also pledged to help clean the other tributaries.

Cimatu said cleaning the river is like hitting three birds with one stone. Doing so will not only help clean Manila Bay, but may also help prevent flood, he added.

The environment secretary said the Tullahan River may also be developed as alternative route for travelling from Quezon City to Navotas.