Threat of the Expansion of the Banana Plantation

According to studies of the Davao City Water District, 98 percent of the city’s drinking water is sourced from groundwater mainly from Talomo-Lipadas. This 38,000-hectare watershed has an annual volume of water catch of 760 million cubic meters (MCM) or 2 MCM per day. It is one of the nine watersheds in the city that direly needs protection. In Davao City the main source of water supply is ground water. Hence, the city depends largely on the Mt. Talomo-Lipadas watershed.

This watershed is now being threatened by expanding vegetable farms, creeping banana and pineapple plantations, illegal logging and other deleterious undertakings. A portion of the Mt. Talomo-Lipadas watershed, some 530 hectares inside the Mt. Apo Natural Park, has already been denuded (DCWD). Mt. Talomo-Lipadas watershed, the primary source of water in Davao City, is now in danger of expansion and encroachment of banana plantations in its protected area, especially at the foot slopes of Mt.

Apo and along the steep slopes from the river’s tributary to Lipadas river, the City’s Aquifer. The presence of banana plantations and their continued expansion poses a clear and present danger on the groundwater resources of the watershed. Moreover, the activities of these plantations cause health problems to residents in surrounding areas(DCWD). Every Filipino as enshrined in our Constitution is tasked “to protect and advance the rights of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature”.

It is on this basis that this paper was given birth to strike a balanced trade-off between environmental care and economic development alongside people’s health. Statement of the Problem This study was conducted to look into the status of the the Talomo – Lipadas Watershed. It aims to answer the following questions: 1. To identify its significance to the people of Davao City. 2. To look into the threat of the expansion of banana plantation posed to Talomo-Lipadas watershed.

To lay down the views of the government, the youth and the agencies who have interests in the protection of Mt.Talomo-Lipadas watershed as the source of 98 percent of the Davao City’s drinking water. 4. To aware the community on the effects that agricultural activities may have on the general public due to watershed contamination. 5. To identify what significant steps have been undertaken by the local government officials, different non-government organizations, and responsible government organizations to address the existing problem. 6. To urge the relevant organizations and stakeholders to make immediate and effective actions to address the problem. Review of Related Literature

A watershed is defined as “an area of land that drains down the slope to the lowest point. The water moves through a network of drainage pathways that converge into streams and rivers, which become progressively larger as the water moves on downstream, eventually reaching an estuary and the ocean”(Watershed Stewardship Education Program Training Guide, Oregon State University and Sea Grant Extension: http://seagrant. orst. edu/wsep). By the definition of the Davao City Water District (DCWD), a watershed is a basin-like geographical structure bounded by surrounding ridges.

It has a network of stream tributaries leading to a common mouth or drainage channel. It is a combination of components such as soil, water, terrain, vegetative cover, and associate animal life. A watershed plays a very critical role in ensuring and abundant supply of round water (Sienes, 2002). “A watershed is also sometimes called drainage basin or catchment basin. The delineation of the Talomo-Lipadas Area follows the definition of a watershed” (DCWD). In Davao City the main source of water supply is ground water. Hence, the city depends largely on the Mt. Talomo-Lipadas watershed.

This watershed is now being threatened by expanding vegetable farms, creeping banana and pineapple plantations, illegal logging and other deleterious undertakings. A portion of the Mt. Talomo-Lipadas watershed, some 530 hectares inside the Mt. Apo Natural Park, has already been denuded (DCWD). The Geosciences Division of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Region XI study provides a concise and definitive description of the Talomo-Lipadas watershed. “The Talomo watershed has an estimated catchment area of about 20,700 hectares. The principal drainage channel of the watershed is Talomo River whose waters originate from Mt.Talomo which then follows a northeasterly to southeasterly course to Davao Gulf. The total length of Talomo River is about 50. 75 kilometers. Tributaries of Talomo River include: Wangan, Tagoy, Tagakpan, Taguno, and Lucing de Agua Paul.

The Lipadas watershed is smaller than Talomo watershed, having an estimated area of only 17,500 hectares. It covers however two Davao City districts. The principal drainage channel of the “watershed” is the Lipadas River whose headwater is also located in Mt. Talomo. Lipadas River flows in a northeasterly to east-southeasterly direction to Davao Gulf covering an estimated length of 30. kilometers to Davao Gulf. The “watershed” is drained by several tributaries, including: Bato, Kilate, Catigan, Sirawan, Banas, Tagluno, Tagurano, Kalausan, and Saro. The Talomo and Lipadas Watersheds are two of the nine watersheds of Davao City. They are the main sources of groundwater for the City, even if they comprise only 13% of the entire area. Their two catchment channels, the Talomo and Lipadas Rivers, are sources of surface water utilized primarily for irrigation and hydroelectricity. The land area of 38,830 hectares has a population of about 517,000 (2000 Census), 10,000 of whom belong to the Indigenous Peoples Group.

Aside from having good quality groundwater, the people also have access to the natural recreational and eco-tourism places. Two of these sites are the Mt. Apo National Park, home for the Philippine Eagle and some endemic flora and fauna, and the Talomo Bay where nesting grounds for giant turtles have recently been identified. One of the natural threats identified by PCEEM stakeholders (Scoping Report, 1999) is erosion, which is generally controlled by slope, climate, nature of bedrock, vegetation and human intervention (i. e. land use and farming practices).

On the other hand, man-made activities could induce natural processes, which threaten our watersheds. One is the excessive/improper use of fertilizers and pesticides brought about by these banana plantations and farmers. Another is the increased and mismanaged water demand. And lastly, the improper sewage and solid disposal brought about by the increasing population living in the watershed area. The People Collaborating for Environmental and Economic Management in Davao Foundation, Inc. (PCEEM), a non-governmental organization, is looking for ways to protect watersheds to maintain a potable water source in the future.

The organization, which evolved from the former Philippine-Canadian environmental and economic management project, has focused on how it could develop watersheds into a sustainable water source. In its interim report on the state of the Talomo-Lipadas watershed released in April, Dr. Ruth Gamboa, foundation chairman, said they have partnered with stakeholders for “scientific and technical studies whose results spontaneously converged on the need to manage that common resource enjoyed not only by all Talomo-Lipadas residents but by a majority of Davaoenos — and that is water. The vulnerability of groundwater to pollution depends on a number of factors, namely: geological-lithological (formation of infiltration and percolation zones); morphological (surface form); geo-chemical (binding conditions of soil, composition of pollutants); physical (adhesive and cohesive forces in soils), and hydrogeological (surface and subterranean flows, flow direction and velocity) characteristics of the watershed area supplying water to the aquifer and above the aquifer.