Heading into murky waters

A garbage collector has his work cut out for him in the Marilao River, the Philippines, last Saturday.

Pure Earth - formerly known as the Blacksmith Institute, a non-governmental organisation that works to solve pollution problems in the developing world - named Marilao River in Bulacan, north of Manila, as one of the 30 dirtiest places in the world in 2007.

The Marilao, Meycauyan and Obando river system is home to hundreds of thousands of people and numerous industries, most of which drain their waste water untreated into the river, according to Pure Earth's website.

Carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, lead and human sewage are just a few components of this toxic stew, which the local population relies on as a source of domestic and agricultural water.

"Blacksmith is currently creating a coordinating body to oversee the control and clean-up of this river," said Pure Earth's website.

This body will include senior representatives of the Philippines federal government, the Asian Development Bank, the local municipality, industry representatives and local community groups.

Together, they will design and implement remediation efforts over the next few years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Heading into murky waters'. Print Edition | Subscribe