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First in PH media: UNTV underwater drone explores Manila Bay’s murky seabed

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 7 February 2019 02:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines — On the surface, the sight of Manila Bay may be viewed as clean and fresh as if it has returned to its original, unspoiled state.

But what seems to be a beautiful sight on the surface of the bay is not what it looks like below.

For the first time in the history of Philippine media, UNTV News and Rescue team explored what lies beneath the inviting waters of Manila Bay.

Using UNTV’s underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) drone, the team first took a look at the section of the bay in Padre Faura.

Aside from the low tide, the underwater drone was not able to swim farther, but it was able to capture a long stretch of marshy, muddy ground in the area.

Next stop was in Remedios area.  

The underwater drone was able to reach 10-feet below the water surface but not a single sign of life was seen. Instead, the drone captured an assortment of trash, a lot of them, that had taken the place of corals on the seafloor.

On the surface, the water seemed clear but turned yellowish to greenish to deep black as the drone swam deeper.

As a proof of Manila Bay’s “dark secrets” underneath, the underwater ROV got tangled with some plastic trash when it emerged from the water.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) admitted that Manila Bay’s seabed has grown ‘mountains’ of garbage that were washed to this portion of the bay in the past 40 to 50 years.

The DENR has decided to dredge Manila Bay 300 meters from the shoreline and up to three meters below to clean out the garbage from the seabed. The operations will be carried out with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“Hahabulin po namin ang tamang lalim at ang goal namin (ay) una, ma-expose ang beach materials o ang sand. Pangalawa, sa pamamagitan din ng pagtanggal na iyan, hopefully, it will contribute sa improvement ng water quality,” explained DPWH, Bureau of Equipment director Toribio Noel Ilaw.

The DENR, meanwhile, reported a decline in fecal coliform level in the waters of Manila Bay.

Based on the test conducted on water samples in the Padre Faura area, from 330 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters before the rehabilitation efforts began, the coliform content reduced to 54 million MPN/100ml and even lower to 7.5 million MPN/100ml.

In Remedios area, fecal coliform level reduced from 160 million to 35 million MPN/100ml while in Manila Yatch Club area, it reduced from 1.3 billion to 52 million MPN/100ml at present.

“(Paano) bumaba? The Manila Zoo was the big culprit and when they closed it, they did not dump their waste. (So) there is now 52 million from a high of 1.3 billion,” noted Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Cimatu added that the crackdown on establishments polluting Manila Bay by ordering ‘cease and desist’ and issuance of notice of violations prompted a stop in waste discharges and contributed to the lowering of coliform level in the bay.

Despite these improvements, environment and health officials still do not recommend recreational swimming as health hazards of contaminated water remain high anywhere in Manila Bay. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)

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Simultaneous clean-up of rivers, canals leading to Manila Bay set on March 31

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 20 March 2019 07:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has set a simultaneous clean up of canals and rivers leading to Manila Bay on March 31.

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the clean up drive will cover the river system traversing Marikina, Pasi, Tullahan and Parañaque.

“Iyong nakadikit dun sa mga river system, iyong mga esteros will be cleaned(The canals attached to the river system will be cleaned),” said Leones.

These water systems, according to Leones, serve as conduits for waste water and other pollutants to directly flow into Manila Bay, thus a clean up drive is highly necessary.

“We believe that we cannot clean Manila Bay unless we clean also the sources of pollution along this river systems,” the official added.

In line with the clean-up efforts, the DENR has ordered the closure of two of the three outfalls or water passage located between the U.S. Embassy and Manila Yacht Club to give way to the construction of a sewerage treatment plant that will filter waste water before it reaches Manila Bay.

Meanwhile, dredging operations to scoop out the 4-meter-thick mud and garbage deposits in Manila Bay’s seabed continue.

Likewise, experts are conducting tests on water samples to verify traces of dangerous and heavy metals like mercury.

“Kapag na-accumulate sa body mo iyan, (If those (heavy metals) accumulate inside your body) it will take years before it is eliminated into your body,” Leones explained.

Authorities remind the public that recreational swimming remains strictly prohibited in Manila Bay, though pollution level in its water has receded.

“Ito lang ang sabi ng aming secretary, kapag na-fit ang water for swimming ang unang lalangoy doon kami daw. Hanggat hindi pa kami lumalangoy doon talagang walang dapat mag-swimming doon, (Secretary [Cimatu] told us that once the water in Manila Bay becomes fit for swimming, we will be the first ones to swim in it. So while we are not yet swimming in it, no one should),” the official stressed.

The agency will set up sanitation facilities that informal settlers near Manila Bay can use to prevent them from disposing waste materials into the bay. – Marje Pelayo (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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DPWH begins dredging, desilting of Manila Bay

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, 5 March 2019 04:49 PM

A backhoe dredges decades worth of silt in Manila Bay

MANILA, Philippines — Using the newest machinery, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) began on Tuesday (March 5) the wide desilting activity in Manila Bay as part of its rehabilitation.

The DPWH will first work on the 1.5-kilometer area from Manila Yacht Club Breakwater to the US Embassy.

It was divided into five sectors, with each part estimated to take three months to clean.

Desilting is a process of removing waste and mire underneath the seabed of Manila Bay. The waste collected by the amphibious trucks will be dried and segregated.

The collected waste will be taken to Navotas landfill while the mire and soil will be dumped in a land in Bicutan, Taguig to check if it can still be used.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said they are targeting to dredge around 225,000 sq. meters for this year.

“Kailangan ding i-analyze ang composition ng ide-dredge namin depende kung ano iyong toxicity kung meron man (We also need to analyze the composition of what we are going to dredge, depending on the toxicity if there is any),” Villar said.

Villar also said that the DPWH will assign 50 personnel every day to work on the desilting and dredging activity in Manila Bay.

They will also use a sewer inspection camera to determine which establishments are spewing waste into Manila Bay.

“Malaking tulong ito. Pagpasok niya sa culvert ng mga pipes tapos mayroong unathorized na pumapasok doon na mga tubo coming from non-compliant, nakikita ito. Kapag nakita niya iyan, ime-measure namin kung saan galing, anong building o anong tubo (It will be a great help when it enters the culvert of the pipes because it can detect unauthorized pipes coming from non-compliant establishments. We’ll be able to determine which building or pipe it is),” he said.

The department also estimates that it would take three years to thoroughly clean the Manila Bay seabed. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Joan Nano)

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DENR, DPWH to dredge Manila Bay in March

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, 28 February 2019 06:00 AM

File photo: Manila Bay | UNTV Drone

MANILA, Philippines – The public can expect improvement in the water quality of Manila Bay in a few months.

According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), they are set to dredge all Manila Bay tributaries, along with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to remove the silt and trash that have accumulated underneath over the years.

The DPWH noted that the thick layers of silt and garbage under the Manila Bay have already reduced its water-carrying capacity, affected the water flow and worsened water pollution.

The agency is looking to begin the dredging operation next week, but clarified that this will not be a simple desilting procedure.

“Bagkus ito, tatanggalin mo ‘yung mga taon na, o ilang dekada nang naipon, mga nabulok, natunaw na mga solid sa Manila Bay. So, sa unang hukay namin, halos hindi mo makikilala yung buhangin o halos walang buhangin,” DPWH Bureau of Equipment Director IV Noel Ilao told reporters during an interview on Wednesday.

Footages captured by the UNTV underwater remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) drone in early February revealed the marshy, muddy seabed of Manila Bay, with yellowish to greenish to deep black water as the drone swam deeper — Not a single sign of life could be seen.

Instead, the ROV drone captured an assortment of trash that had taken the place of corals on the seafloor.

Ilao added that at least 20 trucks will be used in the operation to collect the dissolved solids or trash that were dredged up from the Manila bay.

Three amphibious excavators will also be deployed to scour and desilt the 200-meter long shoreline along the 1.5-kilometer stretch of Roxas Boulevard from the Manila Yacht Club Breakwater to the United States Embassy.

Dredged waste and sand will go through a waste segregator machine, after which, separated trash will be temporarily brought to a facility in Bicutan, Taguig City, the DPWH said.

Ilao said the dredging operation may take three months, based on the initial estimation made by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

“Noong naghukay nga tayo, nag-dry run, nasa dalawang metro na nga tayo, hindi pa natin nakukuha yung nailalabas o na-expose yung buhangin. Baka medyo tumagal,” Ilao said.

“Pero pipilitin namin na mas maikling panahon pero hindi naman ‘yung masabi na nagtrabaho,” Ilao added.

The desilting activity is part of the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay. — Robie de Guzman (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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