The proposal to establish a Septage Management System is now under study by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Tagbilaran City to address concerns on public health.
City Councilor Eliezer Borja, chair of the SP Committee on Health, Sanitation, and Environmental Protection, proposed that Tagbilaran City shall have a Sewage and Septage Management Ordinance that will establish a system that includes the storage, collection, transport, treatment and disposal of septage in compliance with existing regulations.
The proposed ordinance has been referred to the SP Committee on Health and Sanitation, and to the Committee on Ways and Means for further study.
Borja explained the necessity for the city government to “ensure the development of a Septage Management System in partnership with other public or private entities considering that “groundwater is the city’s primary source of domestic water”.
He said majority of the residences, commercial, trade and industrial establishments and other institutions in the city continue to use septic tanks for wastewater treatment and disposal and most of the septic tanks in the city are not appropriately designed, constructed nor regularly desludged.
“Untreated domestic wastewater affects health by spreading diseases, making water unfit for human consumption and other uses, contaminating groundwater, threatening biodiversity, and reducing the quality life of the citizens,” Borja pointed out.
On this, Borja lobbied for a legislation “to improve, maintain, and conserve the ecosystem from pollution and the protection of public health”.
\In his proposed ordinance, Borja cited Section 15 under Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which provides that the ‘State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them’ as basis for the need to enact a legislation on establishing a Septage Management System.
In addition, “Section 16 of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 provides that the local government units shall ensure and promote health and safety of the people”, Borja said.
He also cited Republic Act 9275 or the “Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004” which mandates local government units “to prepare a program on septage management and to share the responsibility in the management and improvement of water quality within their respective territorial jurisdictions”.
For reference, Borja explained that The Revised National Plumbing Code and the RA 6541 or the National Building Code of the Philippines provide the proper designs of operations and maintenance of septic tanks,”
In the proposed septage management system, Borja proposed that Tagbilaran City will establish a Septage Management System (SMS) which components shall include an excreta disposal system, a sewage disposal system, pre-treatment for commercial facilities, and septage treatment facility.
It is also proposed that the SMS shall include a system for the reuse and disposal of biosolids and treated effluent, and system for desludging and transport of septage to the septage treatment facility.
As to the details, Borja proposed that “septic tanks will be desludged on a regular basis, approximately once every five years or when the sludge volume is already one-half of the total capacity of the septic tank, or when the septic tank becomes ineffective, whichever comes first”.
Under the proposed system, “desludgers will collect septage from septic tanks using vacuum truck or pumper, and transport it to a treatment facility. After the treatment process, treated effluent will be reused and or in accordance with existing environmental and health regulations”.
“The biosolids may be reused as soil conditioners or amendments following the prevalent standards,” as stated in the proposed provision on the Septage Management System.
Borja also explained that the proposed ordinance shall serve as supplement to existing laws and ordinances related to septage and wastewater management and as complement to existing laws on clean water, and building and plumbing regulations.
It is also proposed that its scope and application shall cover all residential structures, commercial establishments, industrial establishments, government structures, and institutional structures.
“However, buildings, structures or businesses that are required to have on-site wastewater treatment facilities approved by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, City Engineer’s Office-Office of the Building Official, and the City Health Office shall be exempted” from the coverage of the ordinance. “However, they must still comply with DENR discharge standards as stipulated under City Ordinance C-245,” as stipulated in the proposed provision on the scope of the ordinance.