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THE BALILI PROFILE...

      The headwater of Balili River is Sagudin River and is found in Trancoville barangay, Baguio City. Sagudin River is sustained by tributary creeks coming from Pacdal, Cabinet Hill, New Lucban, Honeymoon, Guisad, and Sto. Nino (formerly Slaughter Compound) barangays. The water of the tributary creek from Sto. Nino comes from Burnham Lake and other effluents from the business districts of Baguio City like Magsaysay Avenue and Session Road. These waters converge and flow downstream towards La Trinidad, Benguet as the Balili River, which in turn drains into Naguilian River. The present classification of Naguilian River is Class “A”, which is public water supply Class II.

WATER QUALITY MONITORING AND IMPROVEMENT UNDERTAKEN

A.  Water Quality Monitoring
     Monthly water quality monitoring and sampling were conducted by DENR-CAR since January 1996. A total of nineteen (19) monitoring and sampling stations were established along the barangays where the tributary creeks traverse. Six (6) stations are in La Trinidad, Benguet and thirteen (13) are within boundaries of Baguio City.

     The monitoring and sampling stations were selected in a way to be able to identify the possible sources of pollution and to quantify the contribution of each of the barangays in Baguio City and La Trinidad to the pollution of Balili River.
The analysis of water samples collected from the identified sampling stations in 1996-1998 shows that:

1. The most polluted sampling stations in terms of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) are Stations 10, 13 and 17. These stations have consistently low DO levels which indicate the presence of large amounts of organic matter that use up oxygen for its decomposition. This means that the waters at the abovementioned stations is not capable of sustaining aquatic life. However, at the downstream portion of Balili River at Station 1, DO readings obtained were already within acceptable levels (5mg/1 or more than). This could be attributed to dilution with other tributary creeks with much higher DO levels and aided by its continuous and turbulent flow. The turbulent flow of a river causes aeration, thereby increasing the DO of the River.

2. The pH of Balili River and its tributaries ranges from 6.5 to 9.5. Considering pH level alone as a parameter, this would pass the standard of a Class “A” River.

3. The Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) load averages below 500mg/L. The TDS of a Class “A” River should not exceed 1000mg/L.

4. The Total Suspended Solids (TSS) load in stations 10 and 13 exceed the standard limit of 50mg/L

B.  Formation of a Multi-Sectoral Monitoring Group
     Linkages with concerned private and government agencies were established to address the common goal of improving the water quality of Balili River. This resulted in the formation of a Multi-Sectoral Monitoring Group with the members signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly undertake the task of protecting the water quality of Balili River and its tributaries within Baguio City and La Trinidad by planning and implementing measures towards this goal.

C.  Tie-up with other local government units and institutions
     More individuals and institutions were involved in the protection of Balili River in 1998 as the level of awareness of the citizenry increased.

D.  Water Quality Assessment
1. Identified major pollution sources

a. Solid wastes or garbage from households, particularly plastics and styrofoams are very dominant along the stretch of Balili River. These are seen floating or forming small islands in the middle of the River. Aside from being an eyesore, the garbage clog the waterways causing flooding during heavy rains.

b. Domestic sewage are also directly discharged into the river by some households. These pollutants do not only pose danger and risk to aquatic life but also humans.

c. Untreated effluents from business establishments such as used oil from motor and machine shops also contribute to the degradation of the River.

d. Human activities like car wash along the River and the ongoing construction and widening of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Bontoc Road. Improper containment of excavated materials from the said construction may cause siltation of the river.

E.  Condition and Use of Balili River

a. Water from the river is pumped and used to irrigate vegetable and flower gardens along Km 4 in La Trinidad, Benguet. The River also irrigates the farms in Bahong, La Trinidad, noted for its wide rose gardens

b. Watercress is planted along the riverbanks in the Bell Church area, Km 3, La Trinidad

c. Presence of small fish species like guppy and jojo were noted at the riverside of Km 5 area, La Trinidad

d. Algae are abundant at the downstream portion of Balili River along Capitol area in La Trinidad

F.  Proposed Protection Plan

1. Fencing along the riversides, that are easy garbage dumping areas, to minimize indiscriminate throwing of garbage into the river. Billboards and signs should also be installed with the fences for added effect

2. Planting and propagation of bamboo along the riversides for erosion control

3. Construction of communal septic tanks in some barangays. This could be looked into by concerned authorities and endorse a resolution to the City Council for funding

4. Undertake an intensified and continuous Information and Education Campaign (IEC).

5. Clearing of all storm drains and canals to prevent flooding during heavy rains.

OTHER INFORMATION ON BALILI RIVER

     The Balili River is part of the Baguio Water District’s so called- “inferred aquifer zone”- areas for groundwater extraction that are considered high-yielding because of transmissive flow path. This means that the discharge/recharge process of water in these areas is quite active.

     These aquifer zones include the Trancoville, teachers’s Camp-M Roxas and Busol aquifers. BWD is convinced that groundwater behavior in these areas act in a manner that, as water drains into the Balili River, the River itself, through its underground tributaries, acts as recharge point for ground water replenishment.
The potential contribution of the Balili River as a water source indicates one of the biggest challenges for ground/surface water source management for all sectors concerned. One of the obstacles that have been indentified is the rapid rate of urbanization in the general area of the Balili River, which is La Trinidad, Benguet and Baguio City.

     Urbanization brings about an increase in the demand for water, the problem on waste generation and disposal, the conversion of land to residential, commercial and industrial use, leak and spill of toxic and hazardous substances into waterways. The consequential effects of urbanization in the impairment of water resources is largely foreseen. This gradually reduces the effective watersheds of major river systems- including the Balili River- and ultimately groundwater recharge. It is therefore recommended to identify solutions to the Balili River problem in this particular context.

 
 


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