Abstract Problem: Problem focused on observed contamination of the Iloilo River which could threaten the quality of water and conditions of living of plants and animals, as well as human beings residing in its riverbanks. Emergence of the problem was probably caused by households, businesses, and industries indiscriminately dumping their garbage, sewage, and waste into the river.
Methods: Research design was quasi-experimental in nature, using mixed methods of analysis leading towards awareness and advocacy interventions to generate sustainability of projects and programs towards managing pollution prevention and control and rehabilitation of the Iloilo River. Qualitative analysis included survey, content analysis, interventions, narratives, ethnographic studies, and focus group discussions.
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Quantitative methods involved undertaking an initial assessment survey to identity sources, measures, responses, and public-private sector participation in managing the problem of pollution. Analyses of water quality were done on site for pH, temperature, salinity, total suspended solids, biological oxygen demand, and dissolved oxygen. Laboratory was conducted to measure heavy metal contents of water, including lead and cadmium. Biodiversity assessments were done on identification and density of mangroves and the identification of fauna thriving along the river.
After interventions, reassessment was conducted to determine changes in sources, measure, responses, and public-private sector participation, including water analyses and biodiversity assessment. Correlation of variables was computed, including the initial assessment and reassessment findings. Findings: Initial assessment results revealed that majority of respondents identified household sources of pollution consisted of sewerage outlets, septic tanks, and water in open canals flowing into the river.
Agricultural sources of pollution included location of piggeries, poultry farms, and chicken pens, sludge and mud, fertilizers and pesticides, storage tanks, and land and water transportation fuel leaking into the river. However, only a minority pointed out industrial sources from disposal of industrial wastes, hospital and clinic wastes, fish processing wastes, and animal wastes and by-products from meat markets and slaughter houses.
Measures for pollution prevention and control reported by the majority included formulation of ordinances or resolution, participation in solid waste management movement, planning responses to pollution threats, collection, segregation, and waste discharge activities, scheduling river clean-up, creation of garbage patrol, monitoring of garbage disposal, and formulating and carrying out corrective measures ensuring river clean-up. Mean levels of trace metals and physico-chemical characteristics of water samples are within the DENR-DAO 34 and WHO limits during high and low tides.
Water is not generally polluted continuing analyses should still be undertaken due to population increase and infrastructure development. Mangroves consisted of 22 species belonging to 10 families. Avecennia is dominant species thriving in 21 barangays. Only 22 barangays have existing mangroves currently threatened by accumulated rubbish from food establishments, wastes from hospitals and hotels, boat rumps, and infrastructure activities of private owners and other businesses. Mangrove growth was disturbed by unnecessary sediments and dredge materials suffocating the special roots receiving oxygen.
Majority indicated the responses to pollution prevention and control problems required policy on protecting people from pollution threats, prioritizing health and environment for sustainable development, recognizing existence of pollution problem, specifying objectives related ordinance, spelling out major steps for objective attainment, ordering and timing of steps, investigating the location, extent, cause, and effect of pollution, undertaking beautification projects, and enjoying benefits of river clean-up.
Majority reported the involvements of public and private sectors in managing pollution and biodiversity problems by formulating policy for pollution prevention and control, having a body composed of public-private representatives, inclusion of influential residents, recognition of people’s acceptance and cooperation, information dissemination strategy, and barangay meeting to discuss pollution control and river rehabilitation. Correlation of key variables reported a highly significant relationship between responses to pollution problem and public-private sector participation to preventive measures on pollution problem.
Significant relationship also existed between laboratory analyses of water samples and preventive measures. However, negative correlation existed between laboratory analyses and content analyses of narratives. All significant relationships implied that if and when participation of public and private sectors and responses to prevent and control pollution are undertaken, the existing sources of pollution, laboratory water analyses, and mangrove assessment could be improved to protect the biodiversity and ensure sustainability of the Iloilo River.
Results of initial assessment required interventions. Information dissemination covered understanding of pollution, water pollution, greening the environment as prime value, waste as resource, recycling, recycling food waste to green energy, and meaning of reuse. Education and advocacy interventions consisted of experiential learning modules on river watch as advocacy, student mobilization in river clean-up, solid waste management, nature and management of mangroves, disaster risk management, environmental sanitation, and protecting the environment as emerging modality.
Project planning and monitoring concentrated on river clean-up drive which demanded phases of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. Addenda to project planning and monitoring included composting as a backyard project, upcycling as an entrepreneurial alternative in managing waste, green job as alternative human resource utilization, river mapping, and concern for mangroves. Narratives of NSTP students from the St. Therese-MTC Colleges were prepared to document their actual experiences and impressions in districts where they were exposed by their faculty advisers.
Reassessment results on household sources of pollution revealed that a majority pointed to sewerage outlets, septic tanks, and water in open canals allowed to flow into the river. However, only a minority reported disposal of human wastes and dumping of garbage into the river. Agricultural sources contributed less to pollution. Only a minority mentioned piggeries near the riverbank, sludge and mud, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, fuel storage tanks, and fuels leaks from land and water transportation.
Industrial operations also contribute less to pollution. Only a minority indicated knowledge cases of industrial wastes, hospital and clinic waste, fish processing wastes, and meat markets and slaughter houses disposed of animal wastes and by-products into the river. ANOVA test results revealed very highly significant increase in identified sources of pollution when compared to initial assessment results due to wide dissemination of information about river pollution.
As regards pollution and control measures, majority reported formulating ordinances and resolution, participating in Solid Waste Management, involvement in planning responses to pollution threats, indicating evaluation standards, collection, segregation, and discharge activities, scheduling river clean-up, creation of garbage patrol, monitoring garbage disposal, and formulating and carrying out corrective measures ensuring river clean-up. Minority specified creation of “Bantay Suba”, provision of plan to prevent new and imminent pollution, and mapping out sources of river pollution.
ANOVA test results also showed a highly significant difference in measures done to pollution between initial assessment and reassessment. This implies that people are more aware now of the Iloilo River pollution; thus, actions and solutions are promptly discussed and taken cared of. Reassessment results of water analyses indicated that pH values are within optimal levels, and no significant differences existed between seasons, tides, and sites. Ranges in temperature were acceptable, since river is protected from extreme heating and cooling.
Variations in dissolved oxygen (DO) were observed, and the significantly low level in Molo and City Proper might not be suitable for aquatic life. Turbidity values showed no significant differences between seasons, tides, and location. Salinity indicated salt water intrusion, since Iloilo River is actually an estuarine. BOD levels were lower and served as good indicator of Class C category of water, which could be good for propagating and cultivating fish and other aquatic resources, boating, and manufacturing.
TSS levels showed no significant differences between seasons, tides, and locations, except at La Paz where values were higher; thus, affecting water use by limiting light penetration and limiting reservoir of life through sedimentation of suspended matter. Levels of contamination of heavy metals, particularly lead and cadmium, were found to exceed the geochemical background or threshold values which could threaten human health. The deterioration in water physico-chemical quality was alarming and periodic monitoring and preventive measures are required to save aquatic system from eutrophication.
Heavy metal contamination, mainly cadmium and lead, also caused alarm, by threatening human health. These conditions demanded efforts toward co-management practices under varying climatic conditions to understand better the complex physico-chemical processes causing degradation which have implications on development of effective water management strategies for the Iloilo River and its existing biodiversity. Reassessment of mangroves consisted primarily of density determination. Of the 22 species, 21 were found in Brgy Sooc, district of Molo, while the rest of the species was dispersed in other barangays.
Population densities of mangrove species revealed that Avicennia marina had the highest level and existed in 21 sampling sites. Other species with higher density included Nypa fruticans having economic value, followed by Rhizophora species. In terms dispersal in 21 barangays, Avicennia spp. , Rhizophora spp. , S. alba, N. fruticans, and E. agallocha were successfully dispersed, as indicated by their relative frequency, which could be considered pioneer dominant species along the Iloilo River.
Investigation of fauna showed 21 fishes belonging to 12 families. Macroinvertebrates consisted of seven species of crabs, two species of shrimps, and eight species of mollusks. Terrestrial vertebrates consisted of 33 species of birds, with 17 residents, 15 migrants, and only one endemic species. Herpetofauna was represented by two amphibians and only one species of non-volant mammal was represented by a common house rat. Paucity of vertebrate species was attributed to the degradation of habitats due to anthropogenic or human activities.
Results of reassessment of responses to pollution problems revealed majority having policy on protecting the people from pollution threats, prioritizing health and environment for sustainable development, recognition of existence of present pollution problem, contribution of residents to pollution, specification of objectives to be attained, spelling out steps required, ordering and timing of steps, provision to investigate location, extent, cause, and effect of river pollution, undertaking beautification projects, and enjoying benefits from river clean-up.
Only a minority specified construction and maintenance of sewerage works and waste disposal system in residences and businesses, specifying conservation and rehabilitation of biodiversity, enjoying financial support for river control and rehabilitation, deriving income from waste recycling and segregation, reporting damage due to river pollution, documenting chemical and industrial waste discharges, documenting penalties, imposing sanctions on indiscriminate disposal of garbage, and reporting to proper authorities.
ANOVA test results indicated a very high significance of differences in responses between initial assessment and reassessment, indicating that people were very active in responding to solve the pollution problem affecting the Iloilo River.
Reassessment results on public-private sector involvements reported the necessity of public sector involvement in policy formulation, existence of body composed of public-private sector representatives, inclusion of influential residents as members of anti-pollution group, knowing of activities recognizing acceptance and cooperation, information dissemination strategies for solving pollution problems, and holding barangay meetings discussing programs on pollution control and rehabilitation of the Iloilo River.
However, minority reported barangay incentives for outstanding performance, participation of business representatives, setting aside barangay fund for river protection, activities on specific pollution prevention where funds were allocated, setting up timetable to tackle priority concerns, barangay funds to encourage people’s acceptance and cooperation to carry out pollution prevention program, and holding special events promoting advocacy for physical and natural clean-up of the Iloilo River. ANOVA test results reported very highly significant difference between initial assessment and reassessment results, due to constituents’ eightened awareness of sources of pollution resulting in corresponding increase in public-private sector involvements in abating and resolving the pollution problem affecting the Iloilo River. Measurement of correlation of key variables showed that, on the basis of Pearson r values, water analyses results are negatively correlated to pollution prevention and control measures, meaning that actions on pollution prevention and control were not consistent to the results of water analyses which is alarming to aquatic life in the Iloilo River.
There also existed negative correlation between water analyses results and responses to pollution problem, indicating that responses to upgrade and rehabilitate the Iloilo River were not coherent to results of water analyses. However, Pearson r results indicated no significant correlation existed between results of water analyses and the involvements of the public and private sectors, meaning that high level of public-private sector involvements did not directly benefit the upgrading and rehabilitation of the Iloilo River.
Recommendations: Based on the significant findings of the study, the well-considered suggestions include: (a) a formal adoption of barangays along the Iloilo River as venues for NSTP exposure areas through an authorization from the local government of Iloilo City; (b) the mangrove reforestation of selected barangays and protection of existing mangrove forests along the Iloilo River; (c) the undertaking of a district-segmented river mapping for the protection and rehabilitation of the Iloilo River; and, (d) the dredging of the Iloilo River.
Each recommendation was justified accordingly, and the corresponding action agenda were formulated to serve as specific guidelines for their implementation.