Water Champions initiate or implement water reforms in their chosen field, and are directlyinvolved in improving the water situation in their respective countries.
Water ChampionMaria Sevilla: Decentralized Wastewater Management: Big Results from SmallSolutions
Knowledge Management Officer
What major sanitation problems did Liloan face inrecent years?
Much as I hate to admit it, we're alike most Philippine localgovernment units (LGUs) in that our sanitation serviceshave a lot of gaps. We try to conform to the basics, such aswater sealed septic tanks for residential dwellings or regularresidual garbage collection. We're also very vigilant when itcomes to apprehending people who throw garbage in canalsand waterways.Despite our best efforts, though, we constantly facechallenges related to sanitation. For instance, overflowingseptic tanks not only leave our town looking unsanitary;they also create foul odors and contaminate our water,risking our people's health. This situation worsened in 2004when waste from our public market's septic tank that isbeing directly discharged into Liloan's coastal waters-resulting in unattractive and highly contaminated waters-caused a sharp decline in our tourism industry and anescalation of water-borne diseases among tourists andlocals alike.
How did you solve this problem?
We constructed a decentralized wastewater treatmentfacility (WTF) that uses a locally-made technology called the"Rotating Biological Contactor." This facility, I am proud tosay, is the first of its kind in Northern Cebu. It treats 60-100 cubic meters of wastewater a day, and has such aradical impact on our health, sanitation, and tourismsituation.The concept of decentralized wastewater treatment was firstintroduced to me and the Liloan Municipal Council byrepresentatives from the regional environmental authority,the Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR). They said international funding agencies supportthe dissemination of decentralized wastewater treatmenttechnologies as a cost-effective solution to addressingsanitation problems.
What major challenges did you face in establishingLiloan's wastewater treatment facility?
ADB gave us the funding to construct the WTF, and DENRgave us the technical assistance to see the project through.But ADB and our municipal government had differentprocedures for fund disbursements so among the first thingswe ironed out were the administrative arrangements.The facility is located in the middle of our town center, andI can tell you that setting up an adequate power supply forsuch a technical facility in such location was no mean feat.
ABOUT THE CHAMPION
Hon. Maria Sevilla is the Mayor of Liloan, asmall municipality in the province of Cebu,Philippines. A medical doctor by profession,she is now on her 2nd three-year term as thetown's chief executive, having started in July2001.Although Liloan is essentially an agricultural municipality,tourism contributes significantly to the town's economy. Whenwater pollution due to poor sanitation threatened said industry,Mayor Sevilla and her municipal council sought the assistanceof the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to help the towneradicate the problem.Through apilot and demonstration activity(PDA), a small grantfrom ADB'sCooperation Fund for the Water Sector, themunicipality established a decentralized wastewater treatmentfacility that uses local technology. The success of the projecthas drawn representatives from neighboring towns to learnabout the project.