The rapid urbanization in our city has brought challenges to our urban water district in terms of providing sufficient water supply on one hand and managing the used water on the other. With the utilization of the Montible and Lapu-Lapu Rivers, we could say that in the medium term, we were able to address the issue of the sufficiency of water supply in our city. The challenge now lies in ensuring that the water we provide to households and business establishments in our community will be properly handled and will not cause pollution to receiving bodies of water. In our case, most of our used water is drained into Puerto Princesa Bay and Honda Bay. These bodies of water are vital to our booming tourism industry; Honda Bay is famous for island hopping activity and Puerto Princesa Bay for firefly watching and sports-tourism activity, like the recently concluded Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Race, the latter is also the site of Puerto Princesa Baywalk.

Our city is very blessed to be led by a visionary leader and a prolific planner. Through his effort, the City Government has started the water reuse program by constructing a wastewater treatment plant to treat the wastewater from the old public market and fish port facility. The treated water can be reused for irrigating public gardens and firefighting purposes. On top of the wastewater treatment plant for the old public market, the joint venture company, Puerto Princesa Water Reclamation and Learning Center Inc., formed by the City Government and its private partner also catered to the treatment of septage from the septic tanks of households in the city. This setup makes the PPCWD compliant with the mandate to have at least a septage management program in the area for sanitation.

What we have achieved so far in terms of wastewater treatment through the effort of our beloved City Mayor is still minuscule if we take into account the volume of water that we provide to our consumers. The existing Water Treatment Plant has a capacity of 4 million liters per day (4 MLD) though its contracted volume is only 2 MLD. The volume of water it treats every day is less than 5% of the total wastewater generated in the City. The issue now is where did the remaining untreated wastewater go? Most of it drains to Puerto Bay and Honda Bay causing red tides and degrading water quality of the bays.

To provide a long-term solution, this representation will have a meeting with the official of the Department of Public Works and Highways to avail of the National Septage and Sewerage Management Program (NSSMP) of the National Government. Under the NSSMP, qualified water utilities who plan to implement a wastewater treatment program will receive a subsidy from the national government. The journey to healthy water bodies in our city may be arduous and long but we have to persevere if we want to leave a legacy to our children.

Photo from PPWRLC Facebook Page

By Walter J. Laurel, General Manager, PPCWD