Waste Water Management in the Philippines

Waste Water Management in the Philippines

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I. INTRODUCTION
     This report aims to discuss and to enrich the reader’s knowledge on the proper desludging and disposal of waste accumulated from septic tanks. The information gathered here is vital as it provides a culture of awareness to everyone on how wastewater is disposed of. Wastewater comes from everywhere; from our residences to our workplaces, even public places. Filipinos as we are, have been known to be hygienic yet we know little of what happens when our used water is flushed to the drain until it’s carried off to treatment plants. It is imperative that we, as citizens, must have an idea on how the whole process works and how beneficial/ detrimental it is to the people and to our environment.
     Before we continue with this paper, we must define some of the important terms used in this report. A Septic Tank is a watertight container which receives the discharge of a plumbing system. It was designed and constructed to
separate solids from the liquid; digest the organic matter and allow the liquid waste to discharge in a storm drain. It is used to provide a storage place so as to give opportunity for the bacteria to reduce all solids to liquid form, and to provide a breeding place to increase the number of bacteria to accelerate the decomposition of solids. Desludging is the process of removing or vacuuming the septic tank content. The septic tank content or Septage, is the combination of scum (masss that floats on the tank surface), sludge (solids that settled on the bottom) and liquid pumped out from a filled-up septic tank.
II. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY (REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE)
     In August 1997, the Ayala-led Manila Water Company took over the East Zone of Metro Manila from the government-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System through a 25-year concession agreement, while the Lopez-led Maynilad Water Services took over the West Zone. According to some studies before this study was made, about 76 percent of the water supply for Metro Manila comes from the Angat Reservoir, with the rest of the supply coming from the Ipo and La Mesa Watersheds and from groundwater. The Ipo and La Mesa Watersheds contribute about 14 percent and seven percent of the total supply, respectively, while only about three percent comes from groundwater. Only three percent of the East Zone is connected to the sewerage system, which also is connected to the treatment plant.

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The East Zone is home to some five million people. It comprises the cities of Makati, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Marikina, most parts of Quezon City, some parts of Manila, and the municipalities of San Juan, Taguig, and Pateros. It also covers cities and municipalities in the Rizal province, further east of Metro Manila.





III. DATA AND OBSERVATIONS
     Though the creators of this paper didn’t have the opportunity to get a first hand account of the whole system of operations within Manila Water, there are some facts and figures that were gathered from both the person interviewed and from other sources, which are related to the study. Manila Water has 32 operational community tanks, which are bigger than ordinary septic tanks, located within their service areas, mostly in Quezon City. An average of 10,000 to 20,000 liters of water is used by each household in a month. About 60-85% of the water used will eventually become wastewater.
The water company also controls one treatment plant located in Magallanes, wherein an average of approximately 20 million liters of waste water passes through for treatment. The Manila Water company offers desludging services to all water users who are living on portions of the area where no sewerage system is available and are served by septic tanks.

IV. DISCUSSION
     The desludging operation can be done either manually or through an automated system. Through manual method, hands are aided by a long handled scoop and a container to where the removed scum and sludge are placed prior to disposal. On the other hand, the automated system makes use of equipment such as pumps, flexible sewer hose and a tanker to where the pumped out septage is temporarily stored until it reaches the designated disposal site.
     For safety and health reasons, the workers assigned to desludging operations are provided with safety equipment such as hard hat, rubberized cover-all, goggles, first-aid kits and even communication equipment. As soon as an opening is made in the septic tank, gases that come out should be allowed to escape before desludging is further conducted.
     After the septage has been collected, there are several options on how to the collected septage is to be disposed. The disposal options include the following: Inland Disposal, Treatment, Dewatering and Incineration.
     In Inland Disposal method, the collected septage is disposed untreated at approved sites. The disposal site must have an Environmental Compliance Certificate or ECC, issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for it to operate.

     In Septage Treatment method, the collected septage is to be processed in treatment plants that are strategically located in their service area. The treatment is a physical-biological-chemical process which consists of coagulation, gravity solid-liquid separation and activated sludge. The liquid output is discharged to receiving waterways while the sludge cake output is disposed to existing sanitary landfills.
     Dewatering is the method by which the collected septage is subjected to a mechanical solid-liquid separation at either a transfer station or at a mobile dewatering device. The dewatered septic sludge could be disposed in existing solid waste sanitary landfills.
     The last, Incineration, is done by incinerating the septage, reducing the volume of the final solid waste to a minimum. By reducing the waste into ash, disposal is easier, safer and more sanitary for disposal.
     

V. CONCLUSION
     Wastewater management, specifically desludging and disposal operation is a process most of us are not aware of. For safety and sanitary reasons, this has become a part of maintaining cleanliness and orderliness from our homes, to our workplaces, even our surroundings.
     Desludging is one of the many services of Manila Water Company to its customers. For health and sanitary reasons, septic tank waste, like garbage, must be collected and properly disposed. The desludging process may be done manually, which is by hand, or through an automated system, wherein pumps are used. The collected septage would then be brought to designated disposal sites. There are four ways in which to dispose septage: Inland Disposal, Septage Treatment, Dewatering and Incineration. After the septage has undergone through one of these methods, then it can be properly disposed of.
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