Saturday, January 28, 2012

Current State of the Water Ecosystem of the Philippines

Author: Adrian William Tan

Upon a glance, you could say that the bodies of water in the Philippines are polluted, not being cared for, slowly dying, well those thoughts couldn't be farther away from the truth. The current state of the aquatic ecosystem in the Philippines is dismal, and the ever increasing population of the country isn't helping this problem one bit, if ever, its even aiding in the destruction and pollution of our waters.

The Philippines is an archipelago which means we are rich in bodies of water. We have 412 principal river basins in 119 proclaimed watersheds. We also have Bays and Coastal Waters cover an area of 266,000 km², while oceanic waters cover 1,934,000 km². In addition to those, we also have quite a number of lakes and multiple sources of ground water. You could really say that we are rich in bodies of water, but what are really the state of these natural resources?

The Pasig River is a commercially important artery flowing through the center of Metro Manila, providing the main drainage outlet for most of the waterways. But in time, it has been gravely polluted by the informal settlers near its perimeter. Although in the past few years, rehabilitation of the river is being implemented and as of today, some improvements in the quality of its water can already be seen.

EMB monitored a total of 39 bays and coasts in the Philippines for a long time and regularly since 1996. Manila Bay has its own monitoring program. Except for Puerto Galera Bay, which is a protected seascape, the data indicated that 64 percent had DO levels below 5mg/l, the minimum criterion set for waters suitable as a tourist zone, fishery spawning area, and contact recreation or swimming area. In the coasts of Mandaue to Minglanilla in Cebu (Central Visayas), DO levels varied from 0 to 14mg/l, which indicate that the ecosystem is already undergoing “stress” during certain periods.Except in Cawacawa (Zamboanga City), the maximum values of BOD were all within the criterion set for Class SB waters of 5mg/1. Manila Bay has BOD levels that are generally within fishery water quality criterion. However, seasonal high organic loadings from rivers draining into the bays and in particular, Manila Bay, also result in harmful algal blooms (HABs) that pose a continuing threat to marine resources and public health.

Laguna de Bay is one of the largest lakes in Southeast Asia and the largest and one of the most vital inland bodies of water in the Philippines. Laguna de Bay is estimate to receive approximately 74,300 tons per year of BOD pollution. Domestic sources contribute 69 percent while the remaining 31 percent is from industrial and agricultural sources. Additionally, with the sedimentation rate of 0.5 centimeters per year, an estimated 66 percent of the land area in the watershed is vulnerable to erosion.Routine monitoring of BOD in Laguna Lake shows that is meets the Class C water quality criterion. This indicates that BOD is not an issue, but siltation may be the main problem.

Another body of water that faces pollution are the ground waters. Pollution of groundwater may come from domestic wastewater, agricultural runoffs, and industrial effluents. This occurs when contaminants reach the aquifer or water table in the form of leachate. Domestic wastewater is the main contributor of bacterial contamination to the groundwater supplies. The presence of coliform bacteria in drinking water supplies can cause water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and others. Limited data on the bacteriological content of groundwater from 129 wells indicated a high level of positive coliform bacteria in 75 wells (58 percent).

If you think the bodies of water have it bad, think about the organisms that have to live in those waters. Some of them get poisoned then die, others die from euthrophication. There are multiple cases of destruction of marine habitat such as the destruction and of coral reefs. Another issue is the marine ecosystem is facing would be excessive fishing. In a nut shell, we have a lot of polluted bodies water in the Philippines. And our marine ecosystem and biodiversity is slowly diminishing. But all hope in humanity is not yet lost. Despite all these depressing information about the poor state of the bodies of water in the Philippines, there are still some actions being taken to preserve our bodies of water. Among these are the Marine Sanctuaries which aim to preserve the marine ecosystem in a small area. Among these are the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary, Basdio Marine Sanctuary, Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary and many more. All of which aim to preserve the biodiversity and marine habitat within a small area.

Philippines: Environment Monitor 2003
“Laguna de Bay: The Living Lake” LLDA flyer


  1. I agree with what you said. As a citizen of this country we should take action to what is happening around us for the betterment of our country. Being a part of a group that help preserves the water ecosystem is one thing, doing something that directly help our ecosystem is another.

  2. As citizen what do you think we can do to lessen this pollution and what can we(as computer science students) do to contribute to lessening the pollution in our country?

    I think that we should try to contribute to water pollution lessening even in little things. Even it takes years before water pollution will be lessen in our country, we must still try to help because if this pollution will continue to our country then this can contribute to overall contamination in the country.
    Elijah S. Recto

  3. The Philippines really is rich in bodies of water and it is frustrating that majority of these are somehow, dying. I think the best way to save and maintain our water resources is to educate every Filipino. Let us all be aware of the effects of our negligence when it comes to taking good care of our environment, not just water resources. The government already has these programs but took a long period of time before improvements were seen. If everyone will contribute to this long term goal, the healing will take much faster and the discipline in every Filipino will be a bonus feature.

    Pascual, Janet Louise J.

  4. It's really disappointing that although we're rich in aquatic resources in some parts of our country, still there are some bodies of water here that are very polluted. As a matter of fact, lots of our rivers are considered to be 'dead'. If we are not to act upon this environmental issue, sooner or later there wouldn't be any clean rivers here that our next generation can be seen.
    -Chanel Kim V. Juanitas

  5. God made us stewards of His creations. We should do this task faithfully first for God, then for us, and especially for the next generation.
    There is a promising article that I read that can be found in the link below which states the actions of our government, specially the DENR, on the current state of Water Ecosystem of the Philippines. The article states that DENR has launched the program "Adopt-An-Estero/River program". This program aims to promote a collaboration between private sectors and the government in their agenda to clean Esteros. The author writes,"Under the program, private company partners will undertake environmental improvement on the waterway they have adopted. This may include regular clean-up activities, dredging of the creek as well as information and education campaigns, community mobilization activities, and trainings for concerned stakeholders."

    We hope and we pray that this program will be the start of the progress of current state of our water ecosystem

    -Y'ves Alba


      Here is the link of the article

  6. what oceans are polluted?

  7. I think this article will fully complement your article. PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from CWR, a company whose into selling bath tub filter