The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has gained its first academic partner in its “Adopt-an-Estero” program with the signing on Tuesday (Sept. 13) of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Adamson University (AdU) for the cleanup of a portion of the Estero de Balete in Ermita, Manila.

Signing the agreement to formalize the partnership were Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Juan Miguel Cuna, representing DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, AdU President Rev. Fr. Gregorio L. Bañaga, Jr., C.M, and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim. The signing was held at the AdU campus in San Marcelino, Manila.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the DENR, AdU and Manila LGU MOA is the 9th partnership that the agency has entered into in its drive to clean up Metro Manila’s waterways, and the first with the academe. “Our previous partners in the Adopt-an-Estero program have been industries and businesses. This partnership with Adamson University and the city of Manila is something that we hope will encourage other academic institutions to help in reviving our waterways,” he said.

Paje stressed that such programs are necessary in addressing the overall health of communities. “Aside from the aesthetic improvement of surroundings and reducing the creek’s malodorous scent, cleaning up our waterways prevents them from becoming breeding grounds of pests and parasites that cause diseases such as dengue,” he explained.

Under the MOA, the DENR, through the EMB and the National Solid Waste Management Commission Secretariat, will provide technical assistance to the implementers particularly on environmental education, installation of bar screen in a portion of the estero near San Marcelino Street, monitoring of surrounding establishments, conduct of water quality monitoring, and establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in surrounding barangays.

The Manila City Government, for its part, will implement solid waste management within surrounding barangays. It will also maintain trash traps along the estero.

On the other hand, AdU is expected to administer surface clean-up and engineering solutions to decongest Estero de Balete, recommend and implement measures to reduce pollution, and tap other possible partners in the rehabilitation and future expansion of the pilot site.

The university will also work actively with the DENR and the city government in environmental education of surrounding communities.

Valid initially for three years, the MOA targets the cleanup and rehabilitation of Estero de Balete from Taft Avenue to Romualdez St. in Ermita, Manila, which may be expanded in the future.