MY TWO CENTS: The Davao Kinilaw challenge

A big part of every livable cities features is the availability of affordable, potable water to drink. If the city is in a coastal area, an essential feature should always be the presence of a variety of seafood coming from clean seas surrounding the city. Indeed, our city boasts of having one of the best inland water sources in the world.

No less than employees of local soft drink bottlers say so- they claim to taste the superior quality in their drinks, served along side fresh seafood ceviche or ” kinilaw” to our many guests and tourists. Both dish and drink reflect the status of our waters, and will determine how clean these will stay in the coming years. Reasonably prices fish and drinks mean abundance of these items, with clean waters from here we get them.

Food and drink references considered, water is a resource we cannot live, and cannot grow and prosper without. Economic growth and increased GDP mean little if the cost of food and water also rises.

If anything, these costs should go down due to better efficiencies obtained in managing these important resources. Moreover, these good economic numbers ought to rise further when water costs go down. That means more abundant kinilaw and more readily available drinks in the future.

The economics of water, its availability, volume and quality have become interesting of late. As cities expand, however, water resources unfortunately are both neglected and polluted, threatening to drive up the cost of our locally made softdrinks and kinilaw.

Neglected because many of our local governments fail to plan for water availability. As populations increase, demand will always go up among households and businesses. As climate change challenges our capabilities to produce our food, the capacity to store water for lean months becomes a vital undertaking that cannot be set aside, lest food prices spike.

We have recently seen how low water availability has led to higher chicken and pork prices, since droughts hamper the production of corn used to feed chickens and pigs production. How many droughts will destroy us before we realize the importance of responsible water management?

Polluted, because human activity produces effluents that make their way into our rivers and streams untreated. How many rivers and streams within Mindanao remain within attainment levels as prescribed by the Clean Water act? Often, there are pollutants we cannot see, or ignore. Recent studies have shown that 3 out of 4 kilos of pollutants into our water bodies come from human, not industrial activity.

What has been startling is the admission of some local officials
warning us about fecal coliform levels at our Times Beach area
exceeding 1,000. We all know that this coliform comes from human
waste. We also know that all of our household wastewater enters our water bodies untreated.

What we must know is that we can no longer swim at times beach if we have open wounds lest these are infected by the unseen dirt that has mixed at that once idyllic shore. What we dread knowing is how much longer we can enjoy eating Kinilaw from fish freshly caught near Times beach.

What many of us do not know is that the Clean Water Act requires our water service providers to start developing sewerage systems that can channel our household wastewater into proper treatment before being discharged into our rivers and shores. May we ask how far has the Davao City Water District gone in complying with this?

Neglect and pollution are not a law of nature. They are the
consequences of a lack of collective human appreciation and
responsibility. Let us stop neglect before it pollutes more of our waters. Let us end the neglect so that we can continue to eat good kinilaw.

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