The Sicaba River located between Manapla town and Cadiz City in Negros Occidental will be rehabilitated to reduce pollution through a partnership between sugar producer Victorias Milling Company Inc. (VMC) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The tie-up, announced by VMC on Wednesday, was sealed through a memorandum of agreement signed between regional director Ramar Niel Pascua of the DENR-Environment Management Bureau in Western Visayas, VMC president Minnie Chua, and chief finance officer Kristine Cabuguason.
“Environment protection has been part of our thrust and we welcome this collaboration with the DENR and the Municipality of Manapla and Cadiz City,” Chua said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Pascua said the partnership “emphasizes the significant role of both the public and private sectors and the community in achieving a cleaner, safer and healthier environment.”
As the pilot site, the Sicaba River and its minor tributaries will be part of a comprehensive program to reduce pollution, which also includes an open agreement to possibly extend the site or replicate programs in other portions of the river.
The first month will begin with an immediate surface clean-up and installation of approved engineering solutions.
Also part of the river rehabilitation measures are regular clean-up of the river, phytoremediation (use of living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants) programs through constructed wetlands, planting of bamboo and other species along river banks, rip-rapping or coco-matting and construction and greening of linear parks.
Under the agreement, the DENR is tasked to take charge of monitoring industrial and commercial establishments that run along the Sicaba River, assist in establishing materials recovery facilities in concerned barangays, strictly implement and act against violators of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and Clean Water Act, and assist in community social preparation and other training for leaders and stakeholder groups in the area.
Meanwhile, VMC is in charge of undertaking regular water quality monitoring of the river and its tributaries, assisting DENR in training and program implementations, and helping in community mobilization to support the project.
VMC, which operates a sugar mill and refinery in the adjacent Victorias City, also owns the distillery plant operating in Barangay Purisima, Manapla. (PNA)