Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Subic Bay pollution seen to reach Manila Bay proportions

OLONGAPO CITY, Zambales -- Subic Bay is facing the possibility of suffering the same fate as the highly polluted Manila Bay if waste discharges and other pollutants thrown into the bay remain unchecked, a Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) official, quoting results of a study on the bay pollution, said.

The official, who asked not to be identified pending the official release of the results, said waste discharges from households and factories in Olongapo City and Subic Bay Freeport Zone are rapidly accumulating in Subic Bay.

He said the government's inaction on the problem could result in the rapid pollution of the bay.

"What this means is that in the next 10 years, we could be seeing a very polluted Subic Bay," the SBMA official said.

"The population of Olongapo and the nearby Subic Freeport continues to grow. While we observe a diminishing water supply, what's more alarming is that there is no effort to put up a comprehensive sewerage system for the city such that all wastes and discharges end up in the waters of Subic Bay," he said.

When one goes around the bay in a boat, "you'll see the amount of trash that has accumulated in the bay waters mostly coming from the river channels in the city," he said.

The official said the Subic Water and Sewerage Co. Inc. (Subicwater) has yet to provide a sewerage system for the city, although its franchise agreement gave it the right, privileges and authority to provide water and sewerage services both in the freeport and in Olongapo.

"Technical studies have shown that Subicwater has yet to invest in sewerage infrastructure in the city of Olongapo," he said.

Subicwater officials said the continuing pollution of the bay is a growing problem, but said the preparation of a comprehensive sewerage master plan for the city is ongoing and will be finished before the end of this year.

The plan, according to them, will provide a blueprint for the construction of sewage facilities and will include an assessment of the residents’ willingness to pay for such a service.

"At present, city residents are just paying for water services and raising its tariff to such a level to allow Subicwater to recover its costs has been difficult,” Jaime Garcia, Subicwater assistant general manager, said.

Subicwater is a joint venture of the SBMA, Olongapo City government, DM Consunji Inc. and Biwater/Cascal, a British firm.

Its franchise included implementing a sewerage system for the two areas.

A former US military facility, the freeport has an existing sewerage system while Olongapo has none.

Garcia told the Inquirer that they have commissioned a study for the implementation of a sewerage system for Olongapo and a final report is expected before the yearend.

Based on their tests conducted on the bay waters, the consultants found the capability of our receiving water (Subic Bay) is deteriorating,” Garcia said.


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