The Philippines is known for its white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons. It is also home of renowned surf spots, one of which is in General Luna, Siargao, the home to the famous “Cloud 9” wave. However, beach resorts in the island have been facing a pressing issue on treating their wastewater as this has an effect on ensuring the sustainability of Siargao’s tourism.
“’The previous septic tank of the resort has a bottomless design, kaya direkta po ang paglabas ng aming wastewater sa dagat. At ang contamination po nito sa ating tubig ay malaking problema ng mga resorts dito sa isla. (The previous septic tanks of the resort have a bottomless design, so the wastewater drains straight into the sea. The contamination of the water is one of the biggest problems of resorts in the island)” narrated Ms. Editha Gonzales, former General Manager of Travellers Pension House & Beach Resort in General Luna, Siargao.
Cleaning up wastewater has been a real challenge and poses a serious environmental threat. To address this concern, the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development supported a research project to develop a wastewater clean-up technology.
The Eco-Friendly Septic System or Eco-Sep is a self-sustaining, portable, and movable wastewater treatment system that uses an innovative combination of bio-stimulation and filtration enhanced with organominerals, a technology developed by Dr. Merlinda Palencia through the support of DOST-PCIEERD.
The Eco-Sep’s Vigormin Organo Mineral (ViOM) is an odorless, white powder composed of various organo-minerals that has the capability to neutralize the poignant odor and the mucky color in wastewaters or septic water. Its application significantly improves water quality based on the effluents standards set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Following the successful testing of Eco-Sep in the sewerage systems of the bunkers of Yolanda survivors in Palo, Leyte last 2013 and on a Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), hotels, jetty ports, and households in Boracay last 2015, DOST Caraga installed and field-tested Eco-Sep in selected tourism areas and environmentally compromised areas through a DOST-PCIEERD funded project titled, “Field Testing of Eco-Friendly Septic System for the Tourism Sector in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte” or Project FRESH.
“Since ma-install po ang Eco-Sep dito sa resort na may draining field area, nagkaroon na po kami ng mas maayos na pag-drain ng aming wastewater. Ito po direktang nagiging pandilig sa aming mga halaman. Walang amoy at malinis. Salamat sa DOST dahil isa kami sa mga naging recipient ng Eco-Sep.” said Ms. Gonzales.
Further, she thanked DOST for providing a one-year supply of Virgormin and mentioned that after a year of full implementation of the improved sewerage system thru Eco-Sep, their resort is proud to have met the effluent standards set by DENR.
Enjoining the jumpstart, Sugba Lagoon in the Municipality of Del Carmen, also in Siargao Island will also be launching their Eco-Sep this February 10, 2019.
Realizing the positive outcome, other hotels, beach resorts and LGUs in the island have inquired and expressed adopting Eco-Sep.
Dr. Enrico Paringit, Executive Director of DOST-PCIEERD, expressed assurance that such projects in the future will continually be supported.
“We will continue to provide solutions to societal problems through strategic research and development.” he said.
Dr. Paringit said that DOST-PCIEERD will take the lead in conducting collaborative efforts to maintain and protect the environment and the country’s ecotourism through science and technology interventions.