November 17, 2017
(Domini M. Torrevillas – Philippine Star) – These days, there’s a lot of talk about ecocide, climate change, and global warming.Lecturers from far and wide, most notable of them former US Vice-President Al Gore, have shown us how far we must go to preserve Planet Earth, or perish.
The other day, I had the opportunity of sitting beside Robert Y. So, a more-than-just-environmentalist, who got to talking about environmental deprivation being caused by pollution, by people burning disposable tires and plastic bags in their backyards, throwing non-biogradable wastes into the oceans, rivers and streams, spraying harmful insecticides into plants and spilling toxic chemicals into the environment. These actions, Robert said, create pollution which, in a macro level, is called ecocide – the killing of the environment.
Robert said, though, “It’s not too late, we can still do our share in preventing all these from happening. Take the El Niño phenomenon, for example, too much heat dries up our waterways and destroys out crops and damages the soil. With low water levels in our dams we would need to scrimp on water — like maybe bathe only once a day instead of twice, or wash the car only once a week instead of three. Or we can reclaim and reuse water.”
Reclaiming and reusing water as a matter of fact are Robert’s forte.Robert is president and CEO of EcoSystem Technologies, Inc., which has been engaged in water engineering since 1988. “Water reclamation is simply the treatment or processing of wastewater to make it reusable with definable treatment and reliability and meeting water equality criteria. Water reuse is the use of treated wastewater for beneficial uses, such as agricultural irrigation and industrial cooling.
In 1995 — 15 years ago — Robert ventured into wastewater treatment and organized EcoSystem, and pioneered in the Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) technology, a modern and very efficient method of treating wastewater to make it clean before it is released in the surrounding areas and waterways such as rivers, creeks and streams. Ecosystem, said Robert, developed a hybrid called Ecosystem SBR, and since 2004, the effluent coming from this technology is being used for irrigation, toilet flushing, cooling towers, leisure, hobbies, and other non-potable use.
EcoSystemSBR, Robert said, “is an example of life inside the water. It grows microorganisms naturally without injecting chemicals or enzymes to enhance its growth in numbers as they play a major role in treating wastewater.
“A good biological selection process is essential to achieve such effluent water quality for reuse. Our SBR system is designed in such a way that we only grow the kind of bacteria we like to have because not all bacteria can be considered helpful in treating wastewater, some can even do harm and cause obnoxious odor and failing system.”
When ecosystem introduced SBR in the country in 1995,people doubted the technology. As the company built more SBR plants and consistently proved the technology’s high quality performance, it became widely popular and used by 2004. It has designed and built over 200 wastewater treatment plants including sewage treatment plants. Its clients include top blue-chip companies that believe and support the global clean water environment advocacy, such as Ayala Land, Inc., SM Prime Holdings, SM Land, Ortigas & Co. Limited Partnership, Filinvest Land, Inc., Federal Land, among others.
In 2009, EcoSystem introduced another technological milestone when it introduced Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR) technology, and built the very first high-end MBR in the country for Wyeth Philippines, Inc., at a cost of US$16 million.
It’s not just building water treatment plants for big paying companies that Robert has set his eyes on. He is now helping— on a purely voluntary basis — the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission’s Kapit-Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig headed by Gina Lopez, whom Robert holds in high regard.
Robert points to KBPIP’s project in Paco as a model for rehabilitating Pasig River. Gina was able to have a three-kilometer stretch of squatter houses move back from the esteros by three meters, thereby preventing the residents from throwing waste materials into the waterway. With the open space, water treatment plants can be built, says Robert. If the Paco clean-up drive moves further to cover garbage-clogged tributaries, and with Robert’s Ecosystem water treatment technology, Robert says Pasig River can be cleaned and odor-free in one year! Let’s pray and hope, and help in whatever way we can, so Gina and KBPIP can turn the historic Pasig River into a beautiful, swimmable river.
Robert recalled how his journey as environmentalist began. He was born to a family of traders in Binondo who emphasized industry among their children. Robert finished the mechanical engineering course at the UST, but even before graduation, he was engaged in selling machinery and automotive parts. He smiled, “At age 22, I was already a millionaire!”One time, he was stricken with amoebaesis although his mother was very particular about having the family drink only clean water.The incident led to Robert’s studying the intricacies of water, his taking up ultraviolet sterilization and technology design and engineering in Hong Kong and the United States, and finally winding up with EcoSystem, the biggest water treatment company in the Philippines.
I won’t be surprised if Robert is being called “Mr. Clean Water.”
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