Laguna Lake troubled by heavy metal contamination, siltation

admin   •   August 18, 2016   •   9406

Aerial view of Laguna Lake captured via UNTV drone.

Aerial view of Laguna Lake captured via UNTV drone.

 

Laguna Lake is now shallower than it was decades ago.

Laguna Lake Development Authority General Manager Neric Acosta says sediments from 11 major rivers around the lake has left only 1/4th of its original depth.

“The siltation problem is big. The problems of erosion. The mud is bad for its ecosystem. Its average depth now is just 2 ½ meters. In the 80’s it used to be 12-10 meters,” Acosta said.

Based on a study conducted by the LLDA, the lake contains high level of heavy metals like mercury and lead.

Acosta says around 50-60% of fish supply in Metro Manila and nearby provinces comes from the lake.

“Heavy metals were detected like mercury, lead. But they are still considered safe,” Acosta assured. “But there is a warning that if we don’t do anyhthing about it. We have what we call bioaccumulation. Heavy metals persist in fish, in water, in air and in human. If we eat heavy metals, it accumulates in the human body.”

(READ ALSO: LLDA begins demolition of thousands of fish pens, cages in Laguna lake)

At present, the knifefish, which started to become a problem in 2102, can still be found in the lake.

If a knifefish weighs at least 1 kilo. It means it has probably fed on about 7-8 kilos of other fish like silver perch.

“We are doing harvesting with the DSWD’s 4Ps program. The people themselves harvest knifefish eggs attached to bamboos of fishpen and fish cages.”

Laguna Lake’s rehabilitation plan will be announced this month. — Rey Pelayo / UNTV News & Rescue

LLDA backs proposed P609-B Laguna de Bay rehab project

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) has expressed support for an unsolicited proposal from a private consortium to rehabilitate and develop Laguna de Bay.

LLDA General Manager Jaime Medina said the agency’s Board of Directors has endorsed the proposed P609-billion rehabilitation and development project “after months of review and evaluation.”

LLDA is an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Medina said the endorsement of the project came after the spate of typhoons, the latest of which was Typhoon Ulysses that triggered massive flooding in the National Capital Region, Rizal province and other areas.

“This is a welcome opportunity as this will truly aid in addressing the Laguna Lake’s continual problems in siltation, industrial pollution, sedimentation, and lakeshore flooding,” he said in a statement.

Medina said the project proponent has been issued “original proponent status” (OPS) and that the project is now under review by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), through its Public-Private Partnership Center.

The consortium, after being granted the OPS, now has the authority to match better offers submitted by other rivals when a Swiss challenge is undertaken for the project, he explained.

The LLDA endorsement will be evaluated by NEDA’s Investment Coordination Committee to determine the reasonable rate of return and other parameters for negotiation, Medina said.

The decision on whether to approve or deny the proposal will be up to the NEDA Board, he added.

The rehabilitation project, which is proposed to be undertaken in a span of 5 to 10 years, includes the dredging of approximately 800 million cubic meter of silt and mud, assistance to affected fisherfolk and other stakeholders, and silt transfer and development of pre-identified catchment area to be done in phases while the dredging process progresses.

The unsolicited proposal will be under the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) scheme, which means that the proponent will finance, construct, operate, maintain and own facility and can collect fees and charges to recover their investment.

The government will provide the authorization and assistance in securing the BOO contract and has the option to buy the output or service provided by the operator.

The consortium is led by Taguig Lake City Development Corporation (TLCDC), with two big foreign companies as partners that have the experience, expertise and track record in undertaking such project.

The LLDA said it has sent a briefer thru a Memorandum to the Office of the President regarding the urgent need to rehabilitate the waters of Laguna Lake in order to sustain and enhance aquatic life therein; the critical need to increase and improve the holding capacity and water quality of the Laguna Lake in order to viably and effectively access the lake as a domestic water source, and the real potential of Laguna Lake and its outlying areas to significantly enhance water quality and boost socio-economic growth in the region and in the country.

The Laguna de Bay is the largest lake in the Philippines, with around 100 rivers and streams draining into it, making it prone to flooding. The Napindan Channel, through the Pasig River, drains the lake waters to Manila Bay.

DENR to conduct nationwide waterways dredging project, evaluates Laguna Lake

Marje Pelayo   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu wants an immediate assessment of the major waterways like rivers across the country to determine which of them needs to undergo dredging.

Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the Department is planning a dredging operation in the Cagayan River which carries water from Nueva Ecija to Appari. 

The recent onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses caused the river to overflow its banks and submerge nearby areas like Cagayan and Isabela.

In his last briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte, Cimatu said the government will not shell out any amount for the project but it will gain from it instead.

“It will be really a request of the governor to allow a contractor to clean or to dredge the river and at the same time in exchange of that, he has allowed to sell this sand,” Cimatu said.

“But they have to pay as much as what the mining company is paying for – 4% excise tax as a revenue of the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is studying the proposed plan to rehabilitate the lake.

According to the agency, the Laguna Lake is now about 2.5 meters deep as compared to 5 meters that the locals used to observe in the past.

According to LLDA Department Manager III Emeterio Hernandez, they have to remove at least 2 meters of sediments or silt from the lake, especially at the opening section and the western section to make space for water flowing from nearby waterways like Marikina River.

“Ang ibang common term dyan is parang batya na sinasahod niya lahat ng ulan na nanggagaling sa ating mga watershed,” Hernandez said.

[The common term for that is like a basin that catches the rain coming from the watershed.]

“So kung ang batya natin ay medyo mababaw na, so ineexpect natin na kaunting dagdag lang ng tubig mag ooverflow siya,” he added.

[So if the basin becomes shallow, with only a small amount the water will overflow.]

No government funding will be required for the dredging operation, Hernandez said.

Once approved, the project is expected to commence next year and will be completed hopefully within the next 3 to 5 years. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Fishkill in Laguna Lake not caused by a virus — BFAR

Marje Pelayo   •   June 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 4A has reported that around 800 metric tons of fish died in Laguna Lake last week in the areas of Pililia and Binangonan, Rizal.

Region 4A Director Sammy Malvas clarified that the fish kill was due to the lowering of dissolved oxygen in the water and not because of any virus outbreak as some reports said.

“Kalimitan ang cause nyan ay iyong pabago-bagong weather condition natin. Halimbawa ay mainit sa araw tapos bandang hapon ay biglang bubuhos ang malakas na ulan, nagko-cause iyon ng pagbaba ng lebel ng dissolved oxygen, (Usually, the cause is the changing weather conditions. For example, the sun is up in the morning then in the afternoon, we have thunderstorms, that causes reduction in level of dissolved oxygen),” Malvas explained.

One of the viruses that can infect tilapya is the so-called ‘tilapia lake virus’ (TLV), a case of which was recorded three years ago in Bulacan.

There has been no recurrence of such incident so far according to Malvas, as they also conduct strict laboratory testing of fish seed samples before transporting them to other places.

“Nag-i-issue kasi tayo ng health certificate para doon sa transboundary movement ng mga buhay na semilya (We issue health certificates for transboundary movement of live fish seedlings),” Malvas said. 

The supply of tilapia at the Balintawak Market comes from Pampanga and Batangas and there has been no price increase. 

BFAR  assured that fish supplies in the market are safe to eat provided they are thoroughly cooked. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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