DENR National Capital Region has partnered with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the development of a prototype water hyacinth harvester equipment to address the issue of water hyacinths plaguing the waterways of Metro Manila.

In line with this, Assistant Regional Director for Special Concerns, Martin Jose V. Despi, met with representatives from the Metal Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) of DOST in Taguig City to discuss the details of the project on Tuesday, 16 November 2021.

Assistant Director Despi and the DOST team also conducted a multi-day ocular inspection of the target waterways for the deployment of the prototype harvester. They were accompanied by representatives from the Manila Bay Site Coordinating Office (MBSCMO) and four Field Offices of DENR National Capital Region.

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is an invasive aquatic plant that grows and spreads fast. Some studies say that water hyacinths can grow up to 5 meters per day and double populations in two weeks. When they do, these plants tend to cover large parts of open waters, slowing down the movement of water and trapping other floating debris in the process. This increases the risk of siltation and flooding apart from polluting rivers. Water hyacinths also pose a danger to public health as they create a microhabitat suitable for the breeding of many vectors of human diseases.

Once the design is approved, the prototype will be immediately constructed and deployed according to DENR NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan. The prototype harvester, she says, will be a great help for the Field Offices in their regular conduct of cleanups and removal of water hyacinths in rivers and esteros.

Director Caancan also called on Metro Manila residents to help with the effort by refraining from throwing trash in waterways. “Trash thrown into our rivers become entangled with water hyacinths, making it doubly difficult to remove them”, she said.

“We ask every caring Metro Manilans to please practice proper waste management at home and to focus more on reducing the amount of trash that we generate”, she appealed. The cleanup of esteros and rivers of Metro Manila is part of the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.