DENR to designate Davao Gulf as area of concern

The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources XI (DENR-XI) has taken action in addressing the sanitation of the Davao Gulf by declaring it as Water Quality Management Area (WQMA). 

DENR-XI regional director Ruth Tawantawan, through a text message, said that the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-XI) will designate the Davao Gulf as WQMA along with other areas such as Digos City and Tagum City.

“WQMA aims to protect, through stakeholders collaboration, the water body and its tributaries by keeping their water quality within the Water Quality Guidelines or Criteria conforming to the water body’s classification or even improve the quality to higher classification,” Tawantawan said. 

She said that her agency will sit down with the concerned local government units (LGUs) this February 21, to discuss certain measures in this project. 

The environment official said that declaring areas to be included in the WQMA is in accordance to Section 5 of Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004. The DENR will work in coordination with the National Water Resources Board (NWRB). 

Areas included are watershed, river basins or water resources regions.

Tawantawan said that plans of rehabilitating Davao Gulf is part of Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu’s priority in protecting the marine and coastal ecosystem. 

Recently, DENR conducted a rehabilitation of the Manila Bay. Last year, Boracay Island was closed for six months as directed by President Duterte due to the high level of coliform bacteria based on a study. 

On Wednesday, Architect Leonida Santos, Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) past president and Rotary International district officer urged the local government to prioritize the rehabilitation of Davao Gulf after it is “slowly becoming a septic tank of the city.”

Although Davao Gulf’s situation is not yet as worse as the Manila Bay or Pasig River, Santos said that a sewerage system must be developed as soon as possible.