Inland Waters and the Local Community, Lecture Series #4

Bago River, Minoyan, Murcia, Philippines

Bago River, Minoyan, Murcia, Philippines

Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin, Eden Hills, Rockbridge, Massachussetts

Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin, Eden Hills, Rockbridge, Massachussetts


Today’s topic will focus on Inland Waters.  The discussion is part of a series of lectures-0n-line from Earthniversity.  This is also a continuing advocacy on the issues that face our planet Earth, specifically those major categories listed in our “About” page.   To a certain extent, inland waters are much protected in some developed countries.  The challenge of conservation and protection of Inland Waters is a reality in other countries and most probably in the Third World countries where resources for its protection and conservation is wanting.  Specifically, on the sides of the rivers, lakes, bays, creek, canals and estuaries, encroachment of human settlements faces a big challenge for the Local Government Units.

In most cases, these settlements  contribute to the pollution of inland waters when residents dump their garbage on it.   Flooding,  contamination of mine tailing if a mining exploration is present in the community, over exploitation such as sucking of water by irrigation pumps, and many others, are not the only threats to the health of Inland Waters but the invasion of certain species of organisms – flora or fauna that may damage if not destroy its biodiversity.

So, how could these inland waters be conserved or protected?  Before we tackle on these issues let me first present a few backgrounder.

Water is the result of  hydrologic cycle.   It is described as “the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth.  The mass water on Earth remains fairly constant overtime but the partitioning of water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water is variable depending on the wide range of climatic variables.  The water moves from one reservoir to another such as, from rivers to the ocean or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by physical processes of evaporation, condensation,  precipitation, infiltration, runoff and subsurface flow. In so doing, the water goes through different phases – Liquid, Solid (ice) and gas (vapor).”   (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

When the water falls to the ground, it will seek its level, forcing it to form inland waters such as lake, pond, basin and others.  Water flowing from the upland may flow through the channels of river systems, creeks, canals and others.  For bigger rivers where its upland source of water is so huge the LGU may capture it in the form of a dam and process it as electricity, potable water and irrigation. Examples are Angat Dam and Ambuklao Dam in the Philippines.  Hoover Dam in the state of Nevada, which I visited a few years ago.

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Inland Waters are aquatic-influenced environments located within land boundaries. This includes those located in the coastal areas, even where adjacent to marine environments. Inland water systems can be fresh, saline or a mix of the two – brackish water. In other countries, inland waters maybe located in the interior part of the country or huge body of land but it is saline and another inland waters located near the coastal area but the water is fresh.

According to the government website of the United Kingdom, the link is cited at the end of this page, “Inland Waters include any area of water not categorised as “sea” example: canals, tidal and non-tidal rivers, lakes and some Estuarial  Waters (an arm of sea that extends inland to meet the mouth of a river.)”  

Example of Inland Rivers that are used for navigation are: Mississipi River and Hudson River in the U.S.  Pasig River and Agusan River in the Philippines.  In my province Negros Occidental, there are a few rivers that are navigable such as: Quinaorian River in Victorias City,  Bago River, Talubangi River, Ilog River, Sicaba River and Himoga-an River, among others.   Tributaries of these rivers are the uplands, passing through several farmlands and dump into the Visayan Sea in the East, Guimaras Strait in the West and Sulu Sea in the South of Negros Occidental. Himoga-an River in Sagay is also a tourism destination because of their 2-hour river cruise.

Classified as Inland Water, Ilog River in Negros Occidental is also an estuary linked to Barangay Andulawan and Barangay Bocana waterways.  It is the home of various species of resident and migratory birds and wildlife.  A few are endemic and endangered species.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex describes Inland Waters as follows:

“canals, lakes, rivers, water courses, inlets, and bays that are nearest to the shores of a nation and subject to its complete sovereignty. Inland waters, also known as internal waters, are subject to the total sovereignty of the country as much as if they were an actual part of its land territory. A coastal nation has the right to exclude foreign vessels, subject to the right of entry in times of distress. Whether or not particular waters are to be regarded as inland waters has traditionally been dependent upon historical and geographical factors. Certain types of shoreline configurations have been regarded as confining bodies of water, such as bays. In addition, there has been a recognition that other areas of water that are closely connected to the shore may be regarded as inland waters based upon the manner in which they have been treated by the coastal nation, although they do not meet any exact geographical test. Historic title to inland waters can be claimed only in situations when the coastqal nation has asserted and maintained dominion and control over those waters.”

What are the possible threats to inland waters?

Rivers, creeks, water courses, inlets, bays, canals and other forms of inland waters face possible threats from pollution such as garbage, chemicals from nearby  farms using fertilizers, factories, uncontrolled multiplication of other organisms in the water like water lilies, the rushing of mine tailing to inland waters, floods and so on and so forth pose a great threats to inland waters.

Book Abstract on Inland Waters  taken from the book entitled, Aquatic Conservation by W.D. Williams.

I placed hereunder the Abstract of this book. It focuses on Conservation of Inland Waters, Management of Inland Waters, Community Groups, and Public Participation.


1. Many international and national bodies have stressed the need for community participation in the conservation and management of inland waters. Community participation is needed for three basic reasons: to implement management measures difficult to enforce without community support; to act as a mechanism in protecting inland waters through support of conservation bodies; and, through voluntary actions, to monitor, restore and rehabilitate inland water-bodies.

2. It is important to conserve and manage inland waters because of their many values and uses. To participate fully in conservation and management measures, the community needs to (a) recognize the importance of inland waters as a part of the global hydrological cycle, (b) have some knowledge of the nature and effects of major human impacts on inland waters, and (c) be aware of certain legal issues.

3. The ‘community’ is heterogeneous in nature but community groups of similar interest can be recognized. They vary from small, local action groups, through national groups to international bodies. They provide advice to and support government actions; others oppose and seek to change government actions. Community involvement can be at various levels, from the relatively inactive to the vigorously proactive.

4. Environmental education of the community should begin in childhood, continue at school and other educational institutions, and last throughout life. Information on the conservation and management of inland waters is available from many sources, but a powerful, modern source is the World Wide Web.

5. Four case studies are discussed with particular reference to community participation: Lake Washington and Mono Lake in the US (successful outcomes), the Aral Sea in central Asia and Lake Pedder in Australia (unsuccessful outcomes). Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.  (Reference cited at the bottom of this page)

Is there any way humans can do to conserve and protect Inland Waters?

Precisely there is.  Local laws and cooperation between government and stakeholders can improve the chances of Inland Waters from becoming healthy and promote the conservation and protection of Inland Waters for the use of the present as well as the future generations. If you are thinking  of doing a project to begin with your local community, you can read your local environment code or any environment plan of your LGU, local government unit – town, city, province.  These documents have data where you can base your local initiative or project.

For example:  Inland Waters Conservation and Protection Project may focus on rivers, creeks, water inlets, lakes and others.  The most common project but very laudable one is Waterways Clean-Up Project.  The public information campaign to educate the local residents about the four R’s could also help minimize the landing of rubbish or garbage into the waterways.  In this activity, the local community will learn the value of reuse, reduce, recycling and rot or composting.  You can look for volunteers with expertise on these topics to talk about the 4 R’s.

You may also involve the expertise of local waterworks personnel as resource person on watershed conservation and protection.  On the higher level, sewage treatment and water treatment issues can be discussed with the local community and local government officials on what strategies to take to put these facilities in place. One best practice that can be used as a model here is the  Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre located in Australian Capital Territory – Canberra.  (ACTEW Website)

Sewage Treatment.  Sewerage treatment is a complex process where sewage is treated to remove poisonous or toxic substances. Solids are separated out and the remaining water is cleaned for release back into the natural water cycle. Many different approaches to wastewater treatment exist around the world.

In Canberra, the main sewage treatment plant is the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre (LMWQCC) where sewage is treated and released into the Molonglo River. It then flows into the Murrumbidgee River and drains into the Murray-Darling Basin river system, ultimately discharging into the ocean south of Adelaide. Water leaving this plant has been thoroughly treated, so it returns to the natural water cycle free of pollution and can be reused by other towns further downstream, specifically the farmers.  Other organisms in the rivers have a feast on clean waters flowing in the river.  I saw how a platipus enjoyed the river at Queanbeyan City, NSW, Australia.

In 2000, our Professor for Designing Sustainable Development from the University of Canberra took us on a field trip to Molonglo. It was a surprise for me to learn that from Canberra’s Molonglo water treatment facility, the water flows down to South Australia, specifically the capital Adelaide which faces the Southern Ocean.  I was in Adelaide for a short visit to my mother and sisters. I saw a few rivers where Canberra’s water reaches in the south benefiting not only farmers but tourists who ride the river cruise over clean waters.

Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin (KBDB)

 The State of Massachussetts identified the KBDB as an ACEC or Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  ACEC is a conservation program in Western Massachusetts  managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Kampoosa is a low and marshy land that is frequently flooded.  As a Bog, it is also a muddy ground, too soft to support a heavy body.   Never attempt to walk on the bog.  It is also known as a Fen – a low and flooded area.  It is approximately 1,35o acres and located in the towns of Lee and Stockbridge in Western Massachussetts.  I have been to one of these bogs or fens, specifically in Eden Hills, Stockbridge when I visited the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.  Incidentally, the ground zero of KBDB happens to be in this Marian Order’s property.

When I saw this area in Eden Hills, it immediately caught my eyes, because I thought of the different species of plants and animals that make this bog as their habitat and is this a protected area?  These were the thoughts that were running through my head  as I survey the place with my eyes.   Scientists refer to KBDB, technically, a Lake Basin Graminoid (grass-like) Calcareous Fen.  Due to its critical ecological importance it is now a protected and preservation area because it is the habitat of 19 rare species of plants and animals.  (Energy and Environmental Affairs, Massachussetts.Gov website)

For me, this is a Best Practice that can be replicated in any LGU (Local Government Unit) specifically in my country, the Philippines.  The Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin also reminded me of Ilog River Estuaries in Negros Occidental.  It is the home of migratory and resident birds which scientists believed to be endemic and endangered species.

If you wish to know more about KBDB this is the link   –

Suggested Activities:

A Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection and Conservation of Inland Waters may  be conducted by the LGU or a volunteer organization to enable the community to produce its own plan involving all the stakeholders which also include the community where the Inland Waters may be located.  In the Strat Plan, specific programs and projects can be listed and how it should be implemented will be stated. Focus will be on the Protection and Conservation of Inland Waters.
Tapping the resources of foreign governments.  Implementation of programs and projects that deal with the protection and conservation of Inland Waters may be too costly for any LGU specially in the Third World countries.   But, they can also look at the several “windows” of  grants or loans from  foreign governments through their embassies, specifically those  environment related programs and projects.  This grant or maybe an extension of Loan will require a capability building or  training component for the project personnel.
In 1998, Bacolod City participated in the PRMDP-AusAID Project.  Included in this project is the Public Information Campaign on Solid Waste Management with focus on the 4 Rs. Waterways clean up was also conducted.  A ten-year solid waste management plan was also completed.  A Feasibility Study on the improvement of the city’s drainage system was also prepared.     In its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a proposal for a Sewage Treatment Facility was suggested by the city stakeholders to be constructed along the city property located near the coastal area of Jalandon.  Water leaving this facility will be returned to the sea as clean water.  The same principle that was done in Canberra’s Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre.
In the province of Negros Occidental as well as in the Central Visayas and other parts of the country, several programs and projects designed to protect and conserve the Inland Waters had been conducted and sustained by their respective LGUs through their Environment and Management Office.  But those lacking in implementation is the focus of this initiative.  Something has to be done by concerned groups in the community.
Finally, there are so many ways and means where you can be a part of the solution to conserve and protect Inland Waters.  Your leadership in your local community may make a difference.  Why not start mobilizing your community towards doable plans and implement them with the support from the community?  Your acts today will benefit not only the present generation but the future generations too.

ACTEW  Canberra, Australia, Website

Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Bacolod City, Philippines

Convention on Biological Diversity website

The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

Williams, W. D. (2002), Community Participation in Conserving and Managing Inland Waters. Aquatic Conservation: Mar.Freshw.Ecosyst.,12:315-326.doi:10.1002/aqc.510

Wikiepedia, The Free Encyclopedia


PRMDP-AusAID – Philippine Regional Municipal Development Project-Australian Agency for International Development

Photos by Henry Libo-on

1.  Bago River, Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

2.  Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin, Eden Hills, Stockbridge, Massachussetts








Earth Says

Earth Says

Humans are solely responsible for Climate Change in the world today. The IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that there is a “global scientific consensus that human action was indeed affecting global climate patterns”. (W. M. Adams, Green Development, p.17, 3rd ed, New York).

Here is an Article from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  Link:

“Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the “greenhouse effect”1 — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.

Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as “forcing” climate change. Gases, such as water vapor, which respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are seen as “feedbacks.”

Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include:

 Water vapor. The most abundant greenhouse gas, but importantly, it acts as a feedback to the climate. Water vapor increases as the Earth’s atmosphere warms, but so does the possibility of clouds and precipitation, making these some of the most important feedback mechanisms to the greenhouse effect.

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2). A minor but very important component of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is released through natural processes such as respiration and volcano eruptions and through human activities such as deforestation, land use changes, and burning fossil fuels. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived “forcing” of climate change.
  • Methane. A hydrocarbon gas produced both through natural sources and human activities, including the decomposition of wastes in landfills, agriculture, and especially rice cultivation, as well as ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock. On a molecule-for-molecule basis, methane is a far more active greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but also one which is much less abundant in the atmosphere.
  • Nitrous oxide. A powerful greenhouse gas produced by soil cultivation practices, especially the use of commercial and organic fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production, and biomass burning.
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Synthetic compounds of entirely of industrial origin used in a number of applications, but now largely regulated in production and release to the atmosphere by international agreement for their ability to contribute to destruction of the ozone layer. They are also greenhouse gases.” Link:

According to W. M. Adams in his book Green Development, IPCC noted the following:

1.  The Third Assessment Report (2001) on World Climate Change found a – 100 year trend in temperature (1901 to 2000) was +0.06 degrees Centigrade;

2.  The Fourth Report in 2007 noted that the period 1906-2005 had been hotter at +0.74 degrees Centigrade (IPCC, 2007a).

This Climate Change can therefore create global catastrophe such as: droughts, floods and storms (Houghton, 1995 in W.M. Adams, p. 18).

The role of human activity  (From NASA Article on Climate Change)

In its recently released Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded there’s a more than 90 percent probability that human activities over the past 250 years have warmed our planet.

The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 379 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 90 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.

They said the rate of increase in global warming due to these gases is very likely to be unprecedented within the past 10,000 years or more. The panel’s full Summary for Policymakers report is online at

Solar irradiance

 It’s reasonable to assume that changes in the sun’s energy output would cause the climate to change, since the sun is the fundamental source of energy that drives our climate system.

Indeed, studies show that solar variability has played a role in past climate changes. For example, a decrease in solar activity is thought to have triggered the Little Ice Age between approximately 1650 and 1850, when Greenland was largely cut off by ice from 1410 to the 1720s and glaciers advanced in the Alps.

But several lines of evidence show that current global warming cannot be explained by changes in energy from the sun:

  • Since 1750, the average amount of energy coming from the Sun either remained constant or increased slightly.
  • If the warming were caused by a more active sun, then scientists would expect to see warmer temperatures in all layers of the atmosphere. Instead, they have observed a cooling in the upper atmosphere, and a warming at the surface and in the lower parts of the atmosphere. That’s because greenhouse gasses are trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.
  • Climate models that include solar irradiance changes can’t reproduce the observed temperature trend over the past century or more without including a rise in greenhouse gases.



W. M. Adams, Green Development, 3rd edition, Environment and Sustainability In A Developing World, New York, 2009.

Photo by:  Henry C. Libo-on, Early Morning Flight, Dededo City, Guam


National Heritage: It’s Significance To The Local Government Unit, Lecture Series #1

nullnullIn the Philippines as well as in other countries in Asia, conservation and protection of their Heritage Sites and Places is a must. The Philippines and the rest of Asia have a wealth of national treasures and world heritage sites that require constant protection and conservation not only for the present but also for the future generations.

The country’s strong foundation for the future is bounded on the strength of her people’s knowledge about who they are, what they are now and where they will be going as a people and as a country. The conservation and preservation of these heritage sites and places as well the those declared as national treasures and those included in the world heritage list will increase the people’s awareness of their country’s past and therefore increase their pride of their country.

This topic will focus on what the Local Government Unit or a Community must do to conserve and protect their heritage sites and places. According to Wikipedia, National Heritage is anything of national significance which is handed down and preserved through generations, specially architecture, landscapes, documents, and other artifacts. It means that before we go to the macro level, the national level let us first take the issue to the micro level or the Local Government Unit or the Community.

What is the significance of National Heritage to the Local Government Unit or the Community?

Other than the knowledge of their culture, the present generation have a greater sense of pride of their community or LGU. That pride is anchored on the visible things and objects that remind the present generations of the progress their community had achieved because of the efforts of their forefathers and the realization of how capable their forefathers were in facing the challenges of those times. Those achievements are visible through the historical data, artifacts, documents, landscapes, architecture, among others. With this in mind, the present generation has a greater knowledge of Where They Are Now.

What is the significance of National Heritage to the Future?

The people’s inheritance or heritage can tell the stories of how their forefathers lived and the way of life that they pursued. These are also the things that will inspire, strengthen the community’s resolve and encourage them to follow the examples set by their forefathers or even surpass their achievements. The present generation learns from these heritage icons or symbols and so they will exert efforts to preserve them for the future generations. With this knowledge, the present generation is aware what specific future they wanted to pursue. So, they have answer to the question, Where Are We Going? These answers are in the form of Programs and Projects that the LGU will formulate together with the Community so that they can achieve their goals of conserving and protecting their Heritage Sites and Places.

So, what must the LGU or the Community do in order to conserve and protect their heritage sites and places? Here, we are going to discuss the Australian Experience. I will discuss a few steps borrowed from the Department of Environment Australia’s Clean Environment articles as well as my own suggestions on how to start or enhance the conservation and protection of the LGUs heritage sites and places, and these are:

1. Organize a TWG or Technical Working Group with members coming from various stakeholders.
2. Involve the Community in identifying and listing the Heritage Sites and Places.
3. Historic Sites Protection and Conservation Program
4. Create a Heritage Icons Program
4. Provide Funds or Grants for the Conservation and Protection of Heritage Sites and Places.
5. Pass local laws or legislations to institutionalize or strengthen the LGUs Local Heritage Program.
6. Pass local laws Prohibiting the destruction, demolition and sales of identified sites and/or heritage icons.

What are the examples of National Heritage in the Philippine Setting?

1. Banaue Rice Terraces. In the Province of Ifugao, in the Philippines, the Banaue Rice Terraces is considered by the locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The terraces where carved into the mountains by the ancestors of the indigenous peoples 2,000 years ago. The terraces is located 5,000 feet above sea level. It is fed by ancient irrigation systems from the rainforests above the terraces. It was believed that if the steps is put end to end it would encircle half of the globe. The United Nations has declared the Banaue Rice Terraces a world heritage site. It is preserved and maintained by the present generations of Igorots to remind them of their rich culture and traditions, their ingenuity in building a multi-tiered rice terraces.

2.  The Tabon Cave of Palawan is a heritage site because that is where the skeletal remains of one of the oldest inhabitants of the Philippines were found and it is called the Tabon Man.  The cave was discovered by Robert B. Fox in 1962.  Found in the caves were human remains which dates back 22,000- 24,000 years old.  Also found there were: burial jars, earthenwares, jade ornaments and human fossils dating back to 47,000 years ago, the oldest human remains found in the Philippines.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3.  The Spanish Heritages Churches in the Philippines like the Miag-ao Church is a UN declared Heritage Site.  It was built in the 1760s and it had witnessed the rich history and culture of the 18th Century Iloilo.

4.  The Puerto Princesa Underground River of Palawan is considered a national treasure.  It is the current 7 Wonders of Nature. Its hidden caves revealed an array of stalactites and stalagmites, cave minerals not found elsewhere in the world, and others.   The La Venta Expedition group of Italy, also discovered the still intact 20 Million Years Old Serenia fossil otherwise known as the Sea Cow.  The PPUR is a Protected Area.

5. The Intramuros. The “walled city” can tell a thousand stories about the people of the Philippines, their culture, sufferings and victories as well as the rich history of a nation as unique as every brick in this walled city. This City Within A City must be conserved, preserved and protected for future generations.

Because of the recent controversies on the construction of Torre de Manila, a condominium fronting the Luneta or Dr. Jose Rizal Park, the national hero of the Philippines, it could not be avoided that people will react if not object to the construction of that condominium. People are aware that in other countries like United States, the Mall or the Washington D.C. Park does not allow the construction of edifices like this Torre de Manila if it will destroy the heritage site and the aesthetic sense and historical sense of the place. I just wonder if Community Consultation was done prior to the ground breaking of this condominium. Why did the national government agencies like DENR issued the ECC or let it pass during EIA or Environmental Impact Assessment since historical site and heritage considerations are part of the Environment and Urban Planning and Design?

Now, therefore, the ideas on how the National Government handles or manages the conservation and protection of these National Heritage Sites and Places shall be mainstreamed to the Local Government Unit. The latter should implement the national laws requiring the LGU to conserve and protect their Local Heritage Sites and Places too. If the Local Government Code had devolved the functions of conserving the local heritage sites and places to the LGU, the latter in this case should pass their own local laws or ordinances to implement their own Local Heritage Sites and Places Conservation and Protection Program.

Here, I am enclosing 2 pictures. The first one is the Tabon Cave, South of Palawan Island. The second picture is the Woolmers Estate (Part of the World Heritage Listed Australian Convict Sites). Everybody knows that Australia was once peopled by the convicts from England other than the Aboriginals of Australia. But look at what they have done to conserve and protect this heritage site for future generations of Australians to see. I just hope that our local leadership in the Philippines and the LGU will learn from this Best Practice.

(Writer’s note: Some ideas were borrowed from the Department of Environment Australia. Photo Credit No. 1 – To the Palawan Council For Sustainable Development for the picture of The Tabon Cave. Photo Credit No. 2 – To the Department of Environment Australia for the photo of Woolmers Estate Convict Site. The pictures of other heritage sites I mentioned are available in their websites. Thank you.)