CLEANING THE DREADFUL MANILA BAY: DPWH starts desilting, dredging ops in Manila Bay

An estimated 225,000 cubic meters of silt will be removed over the approximately 1.5-kilometer stretch of Manila Bay from the Manila Yacht Club breakwater to the United States Embassy in Manila as the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) officially started its desilting operations on Tuesday.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said some heavy equipment composed of amphibious excavators, dumping scows, dump trucks, debris segregator, street sweepers, and vacuum sewer jet cleaners are deployed in the area and other strategic locations for the cleaning-up operations.

“This event marks the full-blast dredging within this critical section of Manila Bay. Our Bureau of Equipment (BOE), Regional and District Engineering Offices in Metro Manila have deployed a total of 28 equipment, and 50 personnel to operate 16 hours a day, six days a week,” he said during the launching of the activity in Manila.

“Excavation will be the major mechanism for the removal of the accumulated pollutants in Manila Bay. Through our hardworking crew and equipment fleet, we aim to desilt within 150 meters from the shoreline of Manila Bay,” Villar added.

He noted that they expect to collect 600 cubic meters of silt a day.

On the other hand, DPWH-BOE Director Toribio Noel Ilao said implementation of desilting activities will be divided into five sectors, each ranging from 200 to 300-meter long, until the entire 1.5-kilometer is finished. Each sector will be desilted approximately within 90 to 120 days.

To achieve targets and determine adjustments during the desilting operations, the DPWH-BOE, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), will regularly monitor Manila Bay using bathymetric or depth measurement survey, water quality test, and ocular inspection.

Aside from dredging activities in Manila Bay, the DPWH National Capital Region (NCR), its District Engineering Offices and in coordination with DENR, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and PCG, also conducts clean-up and declogging of tributaries and drainage canals in the city.

“We are working harmoniously with the DENR, the MMDA, other mandamus agencies and local government units for a holistic approach in cleaning Manila Bay. These tributaries or esteros and drainage pipes need to be cleaned and unclogged, as trash from these areas will eventually make their way to Manila Bay,” Villar added.

For his part, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada assured that the city will support the undertaking to rehabilitate the Manila Bay.

He also lauded the Duterte administration for its action to make the bay alive again.

“One of the best examples of government in action, coming together under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. We are now seeing concrete action… as mayor of Manila I can assure you that the local government would extend full assistance for this purpose. We support this program,” Estrada said.

On the other hand, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said that they will be using sewer inspection cameras that will identify establishments that are releasing untreated water to the bay.

“These cameras will determine where this wastewater flowing into the bay is coming from,” he explained.

Last January, the national government launched the campaign to clean Manila Bay. ( (Ferdinand Patinio, Philippine News Agency)