Iloilo City conducted cleanup and mangrove planting activities in Iloilo River to highlight the celebration of World Water Day 2012 Program in March supported by two international environment advocate groups.

Some 64 participants collected 506 kilos of garbage and planted 1,400 mangrove seedlings on 0.315-hectare riverbank area in Barangay San Jose in Arevalo district as one of 11 cleanup sites globally. 

“We Ilonggos should take good care of our river. It has given our ancestors life, it is giving us life, it will give life to our children, and our children’s children. We are blessed to have the abundance of the river. All we have to do is to rehabilitate, preserve and protect it,” stressed Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. 

Village residents, personnel of City Environment and Natural Resources Office, City Agriculturist Office, Petron Corp., Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR)-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), and DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) participated in the activity.

The program was a much larger scale effort this year than the previous years with an impressive and encouraging turnout of hundreds of youth and community volunteers participating in trash pick-up along the banks of their local rivers – it was a huge success and drew attention of city officials, businesses and communities, noted organizer Rivers of the World (ROW) Foundation. 

This year’s river trash cleanup activity has been conducted in a “more concerted fashion” with participation from various groups to set the stage for the International River Summit to be held in the city May 30 – June 1.

The Iloilo River is actually a 15-kilometer long estuarine, deriving fresh water from rivers and creeks that are connected to it and saline water from the sea that feeds it.

The waterway situated at the heart of the city maintains a high level of productive biological activities as it serves as nursery for many important fish species such as bangus and tilapia while the rise and fall of tide makes it possible for nutrients (such as planktons and detritus) to circulate in and out of the estuary which is home to 22 of the country’s 35 mangrove species, according to studies.

ROW initiated the plan in partnership with Alice Ferguson Foundation which was motivated by a similar project in Washington, DC, USA to clean-up the Potomac River.  

Some 1,506 participants collected a total of 5,236 kilos garbage during the “Awareness Campaigns and River Trash Clean Up Activities” in the rivers of Iloilo City, Philippines; Yangtze Kiang River in Wuhan City, China; Indian rivers of Yamuna in Agra, Gokul, and Dehradun; Ganges in Rishikesh; Hooghly River in Kolkata; Daya River near Bhuvaneswar; Barak River, Silchar (Assam); and Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal.