By: Jesse M. Pine, DOST-MIMAROPA PSTC- Oriental Mindoro

      Athena Colline L. Verdey, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office

      Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office

DOST Secretary de la Peña with Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director Ma Josefina Abilay, Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology President Dr. Jesse Zamora, and Provincial S&T Center of Oriental Mindoro Provincial Director Jesse Pine during the Groundbreaking Ceremony

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña together with Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. led the groundbreaking ceremony of Vertical Helophyte Filter System (VHFS) for wastewater treatment in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro last May 17, 2018.

Also present in the event were several dignitaries such as Provincial Science and Technology Director of Oriental Mindoro Jesse Pine, Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products 

Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPDRI) Chief of Engineered Products and Development Section Dr. Rico Jariel Cabangon and Gloria Mayor Bitoy Rodegerio.

Gloria, which is in the 2nd District of Oriental Mindoro, is among the progressing towns in the province as seen in its flourishing economic activities. However, the town’s economic growth comes with unaccounted environmental costs. The discharge of such untreated waste fluids as chemicals and sewage from the town’s busy public facilities, that often produces an unpleasant smell, goes directly into waterways and nearby large bodies of water thereby increasing the risk of water and air contamination in the municipality. 

Apprehending the adverse human health and environmental impacts of the issue, the local government of Gloria in collaboration with the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its Grants-In-Aids (GIA) Program propelled the installment of the VHFSa low-cost, solar-powered technology initially known in Europe that filters and treat domestic and/or sanitary wastewater.

The 10 cubic-meter facility was installed within the premises of Gloria Public Toilet and Gloria Public Market, the two major sources of wastewater in the municipality. It is intended to transform the filthy wastewater from the aforesaid structures into significantly clean waters before it flows through the drainage canals.

According to Engr. Sean Ligtvoet of DOST-XI, who developed the technology, VHFS is a form of nature-based secondary wastewater treatment in which the effluent of the primary treatment is discharged on a constructed filter bed planted with helophytes, a swamp plant that rooted itself in the waterbed, but its stem and leaves that are primarily responsible for supplying oxygen are above the water. These plants are very suitable to filter wastewater, because they vertically transport oxygen to the waterbed making the perfect environment for aerobic decomposition and, underneath the waterbed, a perfect environment for non-aerobic decomposition

Alternate piling up of banana leaves and wild vines with sand as organic matter source for the filter bed

Combining sand filter with different layers of substrates, the facility is expected to reduce pollution-causing contaminants from untreated wastewater such as sulfate, nitrate, coliform, and total suspended solids by 90 to 95%. It will ensure that the effluents produced by the public facilities will be within the standards set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-RMB).

Once fully operational this year, the facility can clean up to 10,000 liters of wastewater per day, mitigating air and water quality issues in the municipality. This wastewater treatment project is said to be in support of the town’s advocacy represented by the slogan “Gloria Po Sa Amin” (It Feels Heaven In Our Place) which means bolstering living conditions in the municipality in harmony with nature.