Homegrown technology promises to rid esteros and rivers of pollutants

Homegrown technology promises to rid esteros and rivers of pollutants

Filipino-owned Ecosystem Technologies Inc. (ESTII) is urging local government units (LGUs) to invest in water treatment and recycling to help conserve water and help save Metro Manila’s dying rivers.

Michael C. Rubio, ESTII director for business development, said LGUs can help conserve water by putting up small wastewater-treatment plants to recycle water from esteros and rivers, instead of using tap water.

“Imagine how much water you can save if you use recycled water?  Using recycled water can help us conserve water coming from Angat,” he told the BusinessMirror in an interview.

Rubio said treating wastewater before discharge is a prescribed measure under the Clean Water Act, in which the government and private sector can help, or be slapped with fines for causing water pollution.

According to Rubio, appropriate wastewater-treatment technology is needed in constructing new residential and commercial buildings to prevent water pollution.

Wastewater discharge, from industries but mostly from households, drain to esteros, rivers leading to the Laguna de Bay, an important fishing ground and aquaculture area, or Manila Bay, which is being eyed for various development projects, including tourism.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has an ongoing river-rehabilitation program called Adopt an Estero, wherein partnership with various stakeholders, including LGUs, the private sector and the community, is highlighted by removing solid waste and greening the surrounding of esteros, including river and river tributaries.

The company’s sequence bio-reactor (SBR) employed  in  the  Paco Estero plant may be replicated to treat many polluted river and water systems in the country, according to Rubio.

ESTII claimed that the SBR used in the plant in Manila is able to generate an effluent that is of highest quality for nonpotable-water  reuse—10 milligrams (mg) per liter or less.  It keeps up with the United States effluent standards for water discharged to the environment.

Filtered water using the SBR technology is able to comply, and even exceed, the DENR’s effluent standard in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of 50 mg per liter. BOD is a measure of how much oxygen is needed to allow for waste’s decomposition; the lower the better.

ESTII offers its technology to build wastewater-treatment plants to other LGUs through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

According to Rubio, since most residential and commercial buildings, particularly in highly urbanized cities like in the National Capital Region (NCR), do not have wastewater-treatment facility, LGUs can invest by building their own through clustering, to significantly reduce pollutants from wastewater draining to water bodies.

ESTII believes that growth in both the population and in industry will have drastic consequences on the environment, as the country did not have the ability to treat its liquid waste.

ESTII said that through its SBR technology, reflecting an approach of localized or on-site treatment has allowed developers to become responsible for environmentally sustainable operations, despite the deficiencies of centralized sanitation services.

“It improved on this technology in terms of performance and reduction of physical footprint, now called the sequence bio reactor, being awarded a series of patents for its innovations,” Rubio said.

From using the large, conventional activated sludge treatment plants, the company shifted to SBR, and noted that in the rise of the property-development industry at the end of the last decade, the SBR became the preferred sewage-treatment plant solution.

In 2014 ESTII commissioned and donated an advanced water reclamation facility in the Paco Public Market on Estero de Paco in Manila, treating not only raw sewage from the estero but also from the public market, resulting in highest-quality nonpotable water for reuse.

The influent water sources include household waste, sewer backflow, Pasig River (and Manila Bay) intrusion from the tidal flows, rain and flood water.

As ecosystem-mastered modular, on-site design of environmental solutions, it sets its goals on larger, city-level water, sanitation and solid-waste projects.

As the Philippines experiences growth, it will be through the work of ESTII that this growth becomes environmentally sustainable.

According to Rubio, the company’s track record in wastewater treatment is recognizable by the over 500 completed design and build projects of used water-treatment plants, including 18 hospitals, over 200 residential/mixed-use development projects, and over 150,000 cubic meters of contaminated water treated every day.


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