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Pangasinan LGUs discussing ways to improve water quality and save aquaculture

By Leonardo V. Micua

DAGUPAN CITY, Jan. 29 — Various local government units (LGUs) in Pangasinan crisscrossed by the Sinocalan River, with the help of various national government agencies, are now discussing a common action plan to abate pollution to save their aquaculture and other allied industries from total ruins.

The discussion among LGUs that formed the Water Quality Management Agency (WAQMA) started Thursday in Dagupan City, the flood basin of water of the Sinocalan River that starts from Itogon and Tuba, Benguet down to Binalonan, Urdaneta, Sta. Barbara, Calasiao, Malasiqui, San Fabian, Dagupan City and Binmaley.

Dagupan City Councilor Jesus Canto, chair of the committee on health of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, hailed the formation of WAQMA which is the proper venue for discussing issues related to pollution, tagged as the one principally responsible for affecting water quality in all the LGUs where water of the Sinocolan River passes through.

"We (LGUs) will have moved as one because we have a common concern," said Canto, on his second term as councilor of Dagupan.

He said the issue not only involves the coliform bacteria in the water coming from the Sinocalan River but also the heavy metals mixed into the water, especially because of the fact that the Sinocalan River is getting its water all the way from Itogon and Tuba, within the mining districts of Benguet.

Corollary to this, these LGUs are now awaiting the result of an earlier study conducted by the Geophysical Department of the University of the Philippines on the heavy metal content of the water of the Sinocalan River, which is draining its water into the Marusay River in Calasiao and emptying into the Lingayen Gulf via Pantal River in Dagupan.

Canto, a doctor by profession, said heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, which are normally used in the mining district of Benguet to separate gold from the ore, are by nature carcinogenic and a big amount of these elements entering the body could be fatal.

The councilor, who is a former director of the Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, said the resultant effect of too much amount of heavy metal intake is cancer.

He added that Dagupan City, whose main agricultural product is the tasty bangus (milfish), will greatly benefit from WAQMA because, being a natural basin, it is in this city where all the water from the Sinocalan River ends up before emptying into the Lingayen Gulf.

Mayor Benjamin Lim led in last Thursday’s WAQMA meeting in Dagupan City along with heads of the city’s department of agriculture, engineering, health and the Dagupan City Water District,

The next meeting is set sometime in February to be hosted by the city of Urdaneta.

WAQMA was formed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and Department of Public Works and Highways to bring about higher water quality in rivers and other inland bodies of water and even the sea. (PNA)

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