DAVAO CITY - An environmental group sounded the alarm on Wednesday after several used face masks and face shields were found at the Panigan-Tamugan watershed in this city last week, saying it could have a variety of adverse effects on the environment and the public.
Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) and Bantay Bukid volunteers, during a clean-up drive, collected 21 pieces of face masks, face shields, and other solid waste in the watershed declared as a conservation area by the Watershed Code of Davao City.
IDIS said majority of the masks are made of long-lasting plastic materials.
Mark Peñalver, executive director of IDIS, said that the Panigan-Tamugan River is currently being tapped as the surface source of drinking water for Davao, and any threats to its water quality should be mitigated.
"Irresponsible disposal of waste in this area contributes to the pollution of our water source. These kinds of wastes do not biodegrade. They only turn into microplastics, which is very hard to filter. If such is the case, these microplastics will find its way on our water system," he said.
Volunteers have also noticed that improper waste disposal could be due to the activities within the Panigan-Tamugan River.
Some people were said to be doing their laundry and swimming in the river. Cottages were also seen in the area that encourages the influx of people.
"The local government of Davao City should look into this with urgency and should ensure that activities within this area should be strictly regulated and monitored," Peñalver said.
The city's watershed management council passed a resolution regulating recreational activities within the watershed areas of Davao which was forwarded to the city council for appropriate action.
Panigan-Tamugan is just meters above the bulk water supply project of Apo Agua and the Davao City water district.
— Report from Hernel Tocmo