Tag Archives: water pollution

My niece asks her Mom, “Why are the rivers here in Aurora clean?”

We were on the way back to Manila from a family vacation in Aurora Province when my niece, Danica, suddenly asks her Mom, “Why are the rivers here in Aurora clean?”

In urban children’s minds, clean waters just seem to be a figment of their imagination. In Aurora, Danica found out that they are still real.

Everyone in the car was surprised with that question. It was a very simple one but carries with it such a complex dimension of environmental degradation. Being the environmental professional in the family, I was expected to answer her question. Frankly, I was challenged with her question, too.

In a mix of Tagalog and English, I tried to give her a simple answer. I told her that what she sees in the city (Metro Manila) are just like the ones she saw in Aurora, many years ago. Except that the city dwellers did not love and care for their rivers so much that they took them for granted and did not give a damn about throwing their garbage and waste on them. I wanted to give her a more complex answer about the impact of population growth and urbanization to the environment but I decided that my first reply was enough for now.

Days after that, hubby and I were still pondering about her question. We realized that in Danica’s mind, it was “natural” to see dirty river waters so, therefore, it was unimaginable to actually see clean rivers! Now we fully understood why she immediately jumped into (and did not want to leave anymore) the river bordering Mom’s farm. We had to convince her that we are going to another river the next day.

When Danica saw this river, we couldn’t get her out of the water anymore! (By the way, this is one of the fantastic views if you are perched on the edge of Mom’s farm).

Her question touched us deeply because we thought about the other children in the urban areas–those who have not even seen a clean river or stream. What a terrible kind of deprivation that they will all grow up not even experiencing how is it to wade and swim in clean bodies of freshwater. Of course, they can always go to the nearest pools in 5-star hotels or beaches such as in Batangas (which are just 4 to 5 hours away from Manila) but it is still different to experience the non-salty and natural (non-chlorinated) types of river waters. Bathing in freshwater is stilldifferent from bathing in salt water and artificial pools. It is still a different experience to marvel at and sit on those huge rocks, knowing that those were shaped by the rushing of the waters over thousands of years.

Danica and Anne at the Caunayan Falls. Suddenly, their joys are mine, too.

What have we urbanites done to our environment, specifically, our river waters? When will we ever pause for a while and think about how we are depriving many generations of children the sheer joy of wading and swimming in crystal-clear river waters? And we are not yet asking about the grave health and ecological implications of water pollution here…

As we ponder on these questions, let me then share with you a brief rundown of some of the salient points (in terms of prohibitions) of the Philippines Clean Water Act of 2004 (Republic Act 9275).

Under the law, it is prohibited to:

1. Deposit material of any kind which could cause water pollution;

2. Discharge, inject, or allow to seep into the earth any substance that would pollute groundwater;

3. Operate facilities that discharge regulated water pollutants without the valid required permits;

4. For LGUs not to comply with the Water Quality Management Action Plan; and

5. Directly use booster pumps in the distribution system or tamper with the water supply.

So, dear readers, I hope that in our own little ways, we can become environmental advocates even in our own families and communities. Who knows, the child who listens to us may just, one day, become the Secretary of the Environment, a multi-awarded ecological expert, or even a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Environment.

As they say, a single drop on the water creates not just a single wave but a ripple effect that extends far beyond the point of contact.

Be that drop and create your own ripples!


This is not a paid blog.

15 Most Toxic Places in the World

A greener future should not remain as just a dream

It’s been a while since I last wrote here. I miss writing a lot but there had been many things occupying hubby and I lately (one is on the search for a new flat/home!). We have a wonderful option and we hope we can still negotiate for a better deal. The unit is nice and big enough for a couple and in a quiet neighborhood. It’s not too far from Makati and Ortigas – yet it’s still in Quezon City! We are bent on staying in QC so we can bring our Bayantel phone+DSL subscription with us – we really just like their services. This makes me wonder again whether Bayantel will consider expanding their coverage. They really should! Anyway, I will blog again about our search for the new lovenest once we have moved in by end of the month.

I had really wanted to write more about our environmental problems (and solutions) so I hope this blog will start me ‘revved’ up again. :) Here then are the 15 most toxic places in the world (lifted from the website of Mother Nature Network). This list does not want to put judgement against any location, country or nationality. I guess the MNN site only wants to remind us all again about the precarious condition of our environment, and in the process, motivate us to do more concrete and effective steps in arresting the degradation around us! Here is the list then –

1. Citarum River, INDONESIA – considered as the most polluted river in the world (I saw the photo posted with the list and I really cringed because you can no longer see any ‘empty space’ on the river surface – everything is just covered with floating debris and garbage.)

2. Chernobyl, UKRAINE – of course, everyone knows that this is where the 1986 nuclear disaster happened.

3. Linfen, CHINA – the MNN site said it is considered as the place with the worst  air pollution in the whole world. The coal and soot from industries and vehicles make the air so dirty that your laundry will turn black even before it dries, if you hang it outside your window. Actually, this doesn’t seem ludicrous because even in Manila, our white shirts turn grayish-black  on the collars if we stayed outdoors the whole day.

4. North Pacific Gyre, PACIFIC OCEAN – not many of us know that we are already building an island of garbage and debris right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The waves naturally push garbage away from the shores and accumulate in the center. Experts say that the debris there is already about 30 feet below the ocean surface. Imagine?

5. Rondonia, BRAZIL – this is considered the most deforested area of the Amazon rainforest. It has reached this stage because of rampant and uncontrolled cattle ranching. Our very own forests will most likely reach the same stage if we don’t do something more urgent about the continuing forest denudation.

6. Yamuna River, INDIA – this is the largest tributary of the Ganges River and flows through Delhi. It is said that 58% of the city’s wastes are dumped here. (Sounds familiar? Our very own Pasig River may not be entirely different although it is commendable that efforts are now being done to revive it.)

7. La Oroya, PERU – this is where rampant mining operations are being done. It is described as a “soot-covered mining town.” Experts say that 99% of the children living in the area already have high lead level in their systems – levels exceeding the acceptable limit.

8. Lake Karachay, RUSSIA – it is considered as the most polluted spot on earth. It has become a nuclear dumping site where radiation level is too high that an hour of stay there (without a very modern breathing mechanism strapped to your body) will be enough to kill you.

9. HAITI – the whole country is so deforested that the recent earthquake made the place even more fragile. It used to enjoy 60% forested area but that size is now down to 2% and fast dwindling…

10. Kabwe, ZAMBIA – the soil has accumulated toxic levels of lead and cadmium due to rampant mining. The children there have lead levels in their systems 5 to 10 times higher than the permissible levels.

11. Appalachia, West Virginia, US – it is also a mining town where the prevalent system being used is called “removal mining” where whole mountaintops are removed. This system leads to soil erosion – which consequently causes run-offs of toxic chemicals and pollutants to the rivers and streams below.

12. Dzerzhinsk, RUSSIA – this is the most chemically-polluted place in the whole world. Chemical wastes are dumped here leading to death rates 200 to 250% higher than birth rates.

13. Riachuelo Basin, ARGENTINA – the river body easily became a receptacle for the garbage and dump of more than 3,500 factories and 13 slum communities around the water system. It also ‘hosts’ 42 open garbage dumps.

14. Vape, INDIA – it has become a dumping place for chemicals as it lies south of industrial estates. The level of mercury in the groundwater is 96% higher than safety levels. There is an alarming presence of heavy metals particles in the air and even in the local produce!

15. EARTH’s ORBIT (yes, you read it right) – around our home called Earth are 4 million pounds of space debris including nuts, bolts, metals, carbon and even a spacecraft! Can you imagine being thrown up there in the skies and dying NOT because of lack of ‘breathable’ oxygen but because you ran smack a floating spacecraft?

We don’t need a lengthy discourse just so we can be convinced to do something more concrete now, right? So please help us save this Earth. It is our only home.

Have a good life!


This is not a paid blog. Reference: Website of Mother Nature Network.