As the national agency tasked to lead all science and technology-related initiatives, the Department of Science and Technology must also serve as a role model to other public and private institutions. It has to comply with all regulatory requirements and implement various projects to protect human health and the environment.
In 2004, the Philippines Clean Water Act (RA 9275), became law. This law mandated that while the country pursues economic growth, it should also protect, preserve and revive the quality of the country’s fresh, brackish and marine waters consistent with the framework for sustainable development.
RA 9275, mandates that within five years following its effectivity, all establishments must be connected to an existing septage and sewage system. If this is not possible, the establishments should then put up their own facility.
The Act also prohibits discharging pollutants to bodies of water and mandates clean-up operations whenever a discharge so occurs. Failure to undertake clean-up operations shall be punished by imprisonment of two to four years and a fine that ranges from Php 500,00 to Php 100,000 for each day of violation.
Sewage treatment ensures that the receiving water into which any effluent is ultimately discharged is not significantly polluted. The degree of treatment required will vary according to the type of receiving water. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order No. 35, series of 1990, or the “Revised Effluent Regulations of 1990”, specifies the allowable pollutant concentrations for industrial manufacturing plants and municipal treatment plants that discharge more than 30 m3 of wastewater per day.
Establishing a good sewage treatment plant (STP) and waste disposal facility will prevent odor and health risk problems from arising.
The DOST is not exempt from complying with the law. To cope with regulatory requirements under RA 9275, the DOST’s Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) has set up DOST’s own STP within its compound to treat effluents coming from the different buildings inside the DOST Compound.
The DOST Complex is actually divided into two compounds separated by its main thoroughfare, Gen. Santos Avenue. Hence, to simplify construction and operation, two sets of sewage treatment plants were constructed. One STP was put up in the main DOST compound where the DOST Central Office, ITDI, Heritage Bldg., Food and Nutrition Research Institute and other DOST units are located. The other STP was put up in the DOST annex compound where the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), Metals Industry Research Development Center (MIRDC) and other units are located.
Both STPs follow the same treatment scheme. Each DOST building has its own septic tank, that now serves as the first treatment of the effluents coming from each building. The outflow from the septic tanks of various buildings located inside the DOST complex shall be connected to the STP through a sewage piping network.
To set up the STPs, actual sewage/wastewater samples from different DOST buildings were collected by the ITDI technical staff to analyze the sewage and wastewater to be treated under the project. They encountered an initial problem. The septic tanks of the newer DOST buildings have no overflow coming out because they are not yet full and the data gathered by them cannot be completed.
To remedy this, the ITDI researchers consulted related wastewater treatment and disposal system literature to determine the characteristics of the sewage/wastewater gathered from the septic tanks of these newer buildings. The literature they collected showed the minimum and maximum strength of contaminants present in the septic tanks that were then used as basis to design the STP.
Fortunately, the data gathered by the ITDI researchers are within the range stated in the reference they used.
With date painstakingly gathered, the ITDI technical staff then developed the appropriate design for the sewage treatment system to be constructed based on the flow rate and characteristics of the sewage/wastewater coming out from the septic tanks of the different DOST buildings.
The STPs were designed and they passed the construction/fabrication and pilot test. The construction/fabrication of the STPs and piping system went through a bidding process and was later awarded to I.M. Bongar Co. Inc. The winning bidder had to ensure that the STPs were operational before they were turned over to DOST-ITDI and DOST-CO General Service Division.
The project was completed on February 28, 2015. Two STPs were constructed, with a capacity of 80 cubic meters and 40 cubic meters, in accordance with the approved design. Sanitary sewer lines that interconnect the septic tanks were also constructed to transfer sewage from the DOST buildings to the constructed STPs. Project implementers also conducted sampling at the STPs installed in ITDI and PTRI for water analysis.
The construction of the STPs within the DOST compound ensured that any effluent or wastewater discharged by DOST to any receiving water now complies with the effluent standards set by the DENR.
Lessons learned from this project can help DOST develop policies to protect waterways. IEC materials can also be developed and better policies can be implemented to help DOST better manage its resources, as well as its wastes. The information package in DOST’s IEC campaign shall include water efficiency measures, regulatory framework, environmental awareness (particularly on the impact of improper wastewater disposal), and technical and financial considerations in constructing an STP. This information can be used to educate students, employees and the general public on environmental management and protection.
By: Ms. Prima Joy F. Margarito DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) Published by: Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII)