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Gov calls for urgent action to revive heavily-polluted Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river systems

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, March 15 – -The biologically dead and heavily polluted Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system needs an immediate “shot in arm” to revive it and free residents and fishing villages from the pollution hazards.

This developed as Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado called for an immediate support from the national government regarding the rehabilitation of the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System (MMORS).

“Everyone is looking up to the north, it is the time to show our region’s development and progress. But how can we fully promote that, if there’s a smudge or a 'blackeye' on its image? We need concrete solutions on how to remove the MMORS on the list of the world’s dirtiest river,” the governor said, adding that the protection of environment and natural resources is one of the seven-point agenda of his administration.

Alvarado, who is also the chairman of the Sectoral Committee on Infrastructure Development (SCID) of the Regional Development Council (RDC), said that he already gave instructions to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to submit a program proposal, together with its budgetary requirement for the rehabilitation of MMORS during the last SCID-RDC III meeting.

DPWH acting regional director Antonio Molano said that they have already submitted a proposal on the dredging of the MMORS.

He said the project needs a budgetary requirement of P1.9 billion, which will involve the dredging of MMORS of about 43.30 kilometers and dike improvement of about 30 kilometers in length on the assumption that all informal settlers along the riverbank will be relocated.

“It is also worth mentioning that this river system is one of the identified waterways that directly discharge to Manila Bay thus, its rehabilitation or improvement is significant in improving the water quality of the bay, which is the spelled out in the Supreme Court ruling on ‘continuing mandamus,’” the DPWH officer-in-charge said.

Alvarado emphasized the importance for concerned agencies to immediately act upon the matter.

“This project needs a strong political will in order for it to succeed. We also need to put everything in due process, make public consultation and proper information dissemination, particularly in the matter of relocating the settlers within the riverbanks. It is also important to develop a sanitary landfill in Bulacan where the spoils of the dredging will be properly dumped,” Alvarado said.

The governor also disclosed that the construction of a sanitary landfill is crucial for the dredging of the heavily silted and polluted river systems.

He said the spoils of the dredging should be dumped properly to a safe and contained place because the said rivers are tainted with hazardous heavy metals like mercury and arsenic.

The proposal of DPWH will be endorsed by the SCID-RDC III for the allocation of budget from the convergence fund.

The New York-based environmental watchdog “Blacksmith Institute” has tagged the Marilao and Meycauayan rivers as among the “dirty thirty” rivers in the world.

The provincial government and local government units in the area are constantly coordinating with concerned government agencies in a collective bid to revive it. (PNA)

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