Julio Fajardo (I, BS-STAT) is currently residing in a dorm at Taft Avenue. He observes mounds of trash scattered alongside the street. He laments, “It’s quite disheartening that this scenario which should be very easy to solve has been one of the main reasons of the recent flooding alongside the avenue, since it clogs the drainage system and raises the water level.”
The recent tropical storms and monsoon rains causing severe flooding along the Taft area have pointed yet again to a recurrent and palpable problem along the streets of De La Salle University: the problem of waste management.
Problems brought about by flooding persist as uncollected trash that pollutes the streets of Manila ends up where floodwater is supposed to pass through.
Kerstin Pinto (II, CAM-MKT), who has been living along Estrada Street for more than 15 years, has seen Taft Avenue through the disastrous floods the trash along it inevitably causes. In the light of the recent devastating mishap, the nameless flood brought on by monsoon winds, she quips that the role of the cluttered trash in causing the flood is mainly to “stress people out” in order to remind them of its harmful repercussions.
Pinto shares that Taft has always been known to be a sullied area, but its degree has rocketed up over the years to the point of exaggeration. Years ago, rainfall oforten minutes did not cause any flood threats. Now, five minutes of heavy rain leads people to wade in grimy ankle-deep waters. On top of that, Pinto adds that despite the several road constructions and projects for sidewalk improvement designed to raise the street level, these attempts are left in vain, unfinished.
The status quo
Outlining the path of rainwater, it first settles along the roads, and from the roads it goes to the inlet, and then from the inlet to the drainage system, and then going to the ‘esteros’, and then to the Pasig River, and only then finally to Manila Bay.
As Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino admitted before in various media interviews and news agency reports, uncollected trash around Metro Manila is a contributing factor when it comes to flooding. He has stated that at least 30-35 percent of the garbage in the country’s capital clogs the sewage drains.
In a previous issue of The LaSallian, Engr. Alexander Mohammad of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), district engineer of South Manila, explains that there are several other factors that should be considered when pertaining to the clogging of drainage systems such as the excavation work of on-going constructions, and the illegal sewer lines connected to drainage systems, which violate the Sanitation Code of the Philippines stated in Presidential Decree no. 856.
He furthers however, that there have only been short term plans that the MMDA has enforced, which is the massive cleanup operation and the massive de-clogging being undertaken around the Metro, to account for government solutions to the problems related to the flooding along the Manila area.
He points out that while the funds for extensive repairs for the area may still be lacking, and is currently on a planning stage for clearer discussions and inspection, the most basic solution to avoid flooding is to practice proper waste segregation and proper waste management, since the defacing trash is still the primary reason for flooding.
Conversely, while Manila is surrounded by uncollected urban waste, how does DLSU fare when it comes to waste management?
Waste management has long been an issue in which the University wishes to address. In ensuring the cleanliness inside and around DLSU, the office of Buildings and Grounds tasks janitors to sweep even the perimeter around DLSU.
Josemari Calleja, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services, identifies waste management as an area for concern within the community. “We are in the process of doing research and gathering baseline data on the area’s waste generation and processing capacity,” Calleja says.
He hopes that the research project will identify concrete plans of action on waste solutions within the term and start on some of them by the last term of the academic year.
“The idea is to take a look at creative solutions that can address the waste management needs of DLSU and the neighboring barangays through a mutually beneficial system,” he shares.
Besides this, the Campus Sustainability Office also has the Green Zone Project together with College of Saint Benilde and St. Scholastica’s College. The Green Zone Project aims to create a sustainable area between Vito Cruz and Quirino and the promotion of proper waste disposal.
As with the recent flooding, Calleja points out that the country’s current waste management system was indeed a factor in the flooding caused by recent monsoon rains and typhoon Karen. Other issues like the unusual amount of rainfall that Metro Manila endured during that time contribute to the occurrence of floods.