The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) continues to garner strong support for its Adopt-an-Estero program, with over 600 private partners have so far agreed to adopt close to 400 water bodies since 2010.

According to DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, more companies have manifested their interest in joining the program that seeks to prevent further degradation and improve the physical conditions of creeks, rivers and other waterways in the country, more particularly in Metro Manila.

“Given the compounded problem on water sufficiency and water quality, all sectors need to cooperate to address this issue. What is unique about this program is its focus on collaborative undertaking among estero communities, the private sector, and local government units,” Paje said.

He added: “There is only one goal and that is, to clean-up polluted water bodies and waterways, and for Metro Manila, maintain clean waterways that drain into Manila Bay.”

The Adopt-an-Estero/ Water Body is a flagship program of the DENR in response to the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court for all concerned government agencies to clean up Manila Bay, including all waterways that drain into it. The program was eventually replicated in other parts of the country.

It is mainly implemented by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

The program is validated through water quality monitoring on the adopted areas using dissolved oxygen (DO) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) as parameters to determine their compliance with the Water Quality Criteria as embodied in DENR Administrative Order No. 34, series of 1990.

This is done to assess the success of the program’s activities based on the improvement of water quality of a particular water body.

Since the program’s inception in 2010, the DENR has signed a total of 616 memorandums of agreement covering 391 adopted water bodies nationwide.

Of the adopted water bodies monitored from 2012 to 2015, 67 of them showed water quality improvement in terms of DO and 68 in terms of BOD.

A total of 17 truckloads, 10,491 sacks and 88,626 kilos of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste materials were recovered under the program’s cleanup activities participated in by close to 19,400 people in 2015.

Paje said the partnerships gained in the last five years have resulted in increased collaboration between the private sector and barangays in areas surrounding the adopted waterways.

The EMB conducts an annual forum in which barangay officials, community leaders and representatives from national and local governments, academe, civil society and the private sector partners convene to review progress, share best practices, and plan and identify areas for improvement.