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EDITORIAL: Keep the river clean

JUST as we were about to ask if the new Naga City Environment and Natural Resources Officer is really fit for his task because of the state of the Naga River being littered with trash that keeps floating on the surface, here we hear about the news that some of his personnel are on their toes cleaning up the city’s creeks and smaller tributaries in anticipation of floods and water overflows with the onset of the rainy season. We say that’s fine and it’s about time that our people tasked with the care of our environment are thinking on their feet with regards to cleaning up our water channels that up to this time have become giant dumping sites for every villager’s garbage and usurped by illegal concrete structures that cause the waters to swell and turn into flashfloods. Besides, wastes indiscriminately strewn on these creeks naturally flow into the Naga River, stay there as poison and eyesore before they are drained into the sea via the Bicol River and San Miguel Bay. We remember Alexander Caning, upon his assumption as city environment and natural resources officer on February 1, this year, telling us that he has instructed his river patrol teams to collect trash from the river and monitor individuals or households violating environmental laws and ordinances, especially those residing along the Naga River and canals. “The team is instructed to identify the violators and document the violations for our office to make a formal report about the unlawful activities,” he was quoted by Bicol Mail as saying. We trust him when he said that under his watch, the water quality at the Naga River would be improved, even as it shows that eutrophication is not yet happening in our river. Eutrophication is the process by which a body of water is mired in dissolved nutrients that results in the depletion of dissolved oxygen, killing or preventing the productive cycle of the fishes underwater. We also believe him to be serious when he said that with the approval of the city mayor for funding, a water treatment facility will be installed at the Naga City People’s Mall (city public market) to avoid draining the market’s wastewater directly to the Naga River without the benefit of treatment. Otherwise, the river will be dead. It has been reported that with this project, CENRO is now in the process of studying the kind of wastewater that the public market has been churning, the volume of wastewater being generated on daily basis, and other related data. And, of course, we believe Mr. Caning when he said that all efforts by the city government to maintain the cleanliness of the river will come to naught if the people, especially those living along the riverbanks, will not cooperate. In the first place, the river is dirty and is feared to be dying because of the people unmindfully turning it into a giant garbage pit. Be that as it may, Mr. Caning’s CENRO has to have its hands full as all the people that pass through it see and squirm at the dirt, wastes, and grime that float downstream (on low tide) and upstream (on high tide) every day. Perhaps he should see how Engr. Joel Martin of the Solid Waste Management Office did about the city streets. The engineer’s street sweepers religiously sweep the streets at perfect intervals that eventually resulted to people cooperating (especially the Naga residents themselves) and avoiding to indiscriminately throwing their garbage, including candy wrappers, on the streets and thus keep the streets clean until the next shift comes in. This should be done, too, in our rivers and canals, with the close cooperation of our barangay officials who need to be doing something more imaginative than scratching their balls inside their boring barangay halls. Henceforth, keeping our rivers and canals clean should be as routinely observed like cleaning our streets. That way, our people will easily understand that we mean business. We call that leadership by example as Engr. Martin has shown.

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