After its highly successful launch in January, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is taking the Manila Bay rehabilitation works down to the esteros and rivers draining into the bay with simultaneous cleanup activities on March 31.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the massive cleanup of Manila Bay tributaries on Sunday, dubbed as the “Battle for the Rivers and Esteros,” aims to involve communities and empower them in protecting their own waterways.

“We at the DENR are doing this to mobilize community participation through their barangay executives in the cleanup, rehabilitation, education and protection activities in the effort to rehabilitate the Manila Bay,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu recently led DENR officials in holding a dialogue with leaders of over 200 barangays in Metro Manila in relation to the important role they play in the rehabilitation, dubbed as “Battle for Manila Bay.”

The Manila Bay rehabilitation will be done in three phases: cleanup and water quality improvement; relocation and rehabilitation; and education, protection and sustainment.

According to Cimatu, the first phase involves the cleanupof esteros and waterways, reduction of fecal coliform level and other discharges from establishments, implementation of solid waste management, and planning for the relocation of informal settlers.

“The first activity will involve the regular conduct of cleanup on garbage and debris, removal of silt by dredging, and introduction of bioremediation, infrastructure improvement and other engineering interventions, such as trash traps and silt curtains,” Cimatu said.

Bioremediation refers to the use of naturally occurring microorganisms or other forms of life to consume and break down environmental pollutants in order to clean up a polluted site. The microorganisms can also be deliberately introduced in the site.

Cimatu said there will also be an intensified promotion of the 3Rs of ecological solid waste management, namely:  reduce, reuse and recycle; provision of adequate receptacles for waste segregation; and conduct of information, education and communication activities.

Last January 27, the DENR launched the three-phase “Battle for Manila Bay” where over 10,000 people joined a massive cleanup activity on Roxas Boulevard in Manila and other parts of the Manila Bay region.

More than a month since the launch, the DENR and the Laguna Lake Development Authority have already issued a total of 263 notices of violation and 119 cease and desist orders to establishments in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and the Calabarzon that have violated the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 and other pertinent environmental laws. ###