What is wastewater and why does it matter?
[Editor’s note: The following is a sponsored post written by Carmelita Liwag, Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines, Diliman]
I spent most of the weekend mornings of my childhood in our garage, where my mother would haul the week’s laundry and enlist every sibling to help in washing the clothes. Learning to do house chores was a significant part of my growing-up years.
I have always liked doing the laundry better than sweeping the floors. I like being with water, especially when days get hotter in summer.
I started from separating the white clothes from those that were colored, and then those that need hand washing from the ones that could be loaded into the washing machine. I graduated to washing the clothes with detergent, to rinsing, then to wringing clothes that my tiny hands could muster. When I grew some inches, I helped my mother hang them to dry.
I got to take baths outside and extend playtime because I was already wet from all the playing and helping with the laundry.
After playtime is cleaning. I would sweep water off our garage, straight to the canal that runs through the streets of our village.
It was much later when I realized, and noted, that the water our household uses for doing the laundry, washing dishes, taking baths, washing the car, and other activities would have to go somewhere.
I learned that water is among our daily resources. It sustains our daily lives, homes, communities, industries, and nation. But what happens to water after we use it?
For most people, once used water is out of sight, it’s out of mind.
80% of the water we have consumed or used—usually referred to as “wastewater”—eventually drains out into bodies of water. It is important to treat and sanitize wastewater before it reaches our seas, rivers, and lakes, lest it harms our sources of water and become breeding ground for diseases.
We need to be mindful of disposing our wastes and how it affects the greater public.
Studies are being looked into, laws are being passed, and projects are already in the pipeline, but positive citizen engagement will be the greatest drive in preserving our waters and environment.
Philippine Clean Water Act
Signed in 2004, the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 unifies citizens, industries, communities, local government units, and national government in a singular movement toward minimizing pollution and promoting the preservation of our country’s water resources.
Under this law, households are mandated to have septic tanks or be connected to a sewage network or “sewerage”.
The septic tank will serve as a repository of solid wastes, while the liquid wastes flow to drainages and canals. These septic tanks should be cleaned periodically to remove septage accumulated over the years.
The sewage network, on the other hand, allows the flowing of waste directly to facilities that treat sewage before its release to waterways.
A hardworking partner
Lucky for me, Maynilad is our—and the government’s—hardworking partner in ensuring proper wastewater management. It offers sewerage services and even septic tank cleaning services for sanitation.
While sewerage services are provided only in areas where it has an existing sewer network, Maynilad offers septic tank cleaning services for households in other areas of its West concession. In these unsewered areas, Maynilad does regular rounds so that households can have their septic tanks desludged every 5 to 7 years.
Maynilad serves a significant portion of Manila and Quezon City, a small area in Makati, and the cities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, and Valenzuela. Their services extend to Cavite, particularly the cities of Bacoor, Cavite, and Imus, and municipalities of Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario.
Playtime may have been over when I came back inside the house, or when I became an adult working to lead a better, more stable life, but I will always remember that, young as I was or the older I may get, I will always bear responsibilities as a part of the house or of a nation striving to build a sustainable, empowered home.
With united citizenry and partners such as Maynilad continuing to help keep our communities and waters clean, future generations may enjoy laundry time and frolicking in bodies of water for years to come.
Carmelita Liwag is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines, Diliman and holds the following degrees: MA Urban and Regional Planning, UP School of Urban and Regional Planning, University of the Philippines; and Master in Regional and Resource Planning, University of Otago, New Zealand.