Manila gets clean water facility

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Technology provider Eco-System Technology Inc. (ESTI) has officially turned over to a Manila city government the state-of-the-art water treatment technology, which allows for the biological recovery of multiple sources of contaminated water for potable and non-potable use.

Considered to be a first-in-the-world, the Filipino-designed hybrid technology called “Sequence Bio-Reactor (SBR)” was retrofitted in the Paco Estero plant, and is expected to treat waste water from both the estero and the wet market.

Its effluent is ideal for water reuse – for cooling towers, watering plants or irrigation, and toilet flushing.

In the past, treating waste water from the Paco Estero and public market was considered nearly impossible. The tributary, which stretches over 2.9 kilometers, hosts a combination of household waste, sewer backflow, Pasig River (and Manila Bay) intrusion from the tidal flows, rain, and flood water.


“While many efforts have been devoted to clean the Pasig River over many decades now but failed, the SBR technology is already a successful, proven technology that can actually clean up Pasig River,” said ESTI President Robert So.

“The clean, clear water from the SBR facility is able to recharge the water in the Paco Estero. This is even if the Paco Estero is affected by high tide and low tide,” So added.
The executive said they envisioned replication of this Paco plant in other river systems like the Pasig River that are severely polluted.

“There are 49 tributaries connecting to the Pasig River. There can be similar plants as that in Paco Estero that may be put up there to provide clean water for non-potable use to communities around Pasig River,” said So.

SBR has been adopted since the 1980s in municipal and industrial sites in the United States and throughout the developed world. Unfortunately, it is only now that SBR is slowly becoming popular in the Philippines, after companies test through trial and error technologies that never really work.

The modern SBR was derived from the continuous conventional activated sludge process (ASP) developed in 1914 by the English scientists Ardern and Lockett. It was a “fill and draw” batch process where waste water is filled, and then drawn in a tank after going through a process.

The first stage involves treating the raw waste water or primary effluent in a tank, then the water, in the second stage, is transferred to another tank for aeration to break down organics into microbial mass. The third stage involves settling in another tank, and the fourth consists of discharging the treated effluent.

The advantage of the modern ASP, and now SBR, is it that uses a compact system, with much less space, with just one tank and still subjects waste water through all the needed stages of treatment, while multiplying effectiveness several times.

In the Philippines, ESTI has enhanced SBR with its advanced hybrid technology, which taps sophisticated biotechnology and molecular tools that multiply bacterial species in the bio-reactor. Bacterial species eat up on the waste and cause separation of solids from liquids, and thereafter clarify the liquids.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies that SBR is significantly cheaper by about 40 percent compared to other technologies. It requires less operating and maintenance cost and consumes 30 to 40 percent less energy.

It is highly flexible in treating different types of waste water and does not emit a nauseating odor.

To date, SBR remains the largest scale potable water use reduction effort in the Philippines, reusing almost 3.5 million cubic meters of water in 2014 alone.

It is able to generate an effluent that is of highest quality for non-potable water reuse at 10 milligrams (mg) per liter or less, keeping up with the US effluent standards for water discharged to the environment.

The hybrid techonology also exceeded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) effluent standard in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) of 50 mg per liter. BOD is a measure of how much oxygen is needed to allow for the waste’s decomposition – the lower, the better.

ESTI has designed and built over 500 used water treatment plants/water reclamation facilities in the country. It has installed SBR sewage treatment plants in Ayala Land properties and malls, SM Malls and properties, San Miguel Corp., Greenhills Shopping Center, Yazaki Torres, Jollibee Commissaries, National Book Store, New Medical City, Petron, De la Salle Taft University, Sisters Of Mary Boys Town, Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort, Chinese General Hospital, Victor Potenciano Medical Center, Puregold Supermarket and Shopwise.

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