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Assessment of Cagayan de Oro River: Basis for Intervention.


An assessment of the water quality of Cagayan de Oro Rver was conducted in Uguiaban Bridge in Sitio Balaun, Rafting Site in Barangay Mambauaya, and the New Bridge in Poblacion Area. The assessment of the river was based on water quality indicators (flow rate, pH, temperature, and total coliform), social indicators (anthropogenic activities), and level of environmental awareness. The research design used qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze the data obtained. The findings of the study showed values in water quality testing that were within standards except for total coliform that always showed exceedingly high values. In terms of the total coliform, the water quality is not within Class A standards. The highest coliform values were obtained from the Poblacion Area. However, compared to previous studies, values for total coliform have greatly reduced in all sampled areas but must require some measures to bring back the water quality to Class A. The environmental awareness survey indicated only at moderate level and has some policy implications on the residential, commercial, and industrial activities. Stringent implementation of the environmental laws is highly recommended. Extensive Information Education (IEC) campaign should also be done along with seminars on capacity building. Stringent implementation of barangay ordinances is recommended as well.

Keywords: Environmental awareness, water quality, sustainable intervention


Rivers are among the most important resources that cater to the basic needs ofthe growing populations. However, they also respond to changes with the passing of time and socio-economic development. Lubos (2010) has been a witness to these environmental changes through his studies that showed positive progression in the level of pollution load in Cagayan de Oro River. Zoleta (2012) had the same findings for the same river as indicated by consistently higher coliform values (27,000-566,000 MPN/100 ml) above the standard for Class A waters as stipulated in DAO 34. The higher values were detected in the downstream portion of the river. Survey results on environmental awareness from areas that are situated directly along the riverbank showed moderate awareness only.

Dowell and Wilcock (2008) provided evidence on the effects of different pastoral animals on water quality. He stressed that reduction of water quality tended to have significant effects on the ecosystem of streams, toxicity to aquatic life and loss of habitat due to sedimentation, among others. This contention was inferred from the analysis of 38 studies conducted since 1975. Another study in Australian rivers by Boulton et al. (2010) revealed changes on river flows. Gravel extraction, and poor management catchment have altered the extent and ecological integrity of the hyporheic zone in the area which caused the reduction of the dependent biodiversity, and this was largely attributed to sedimentation and pollution.

Since development and environment always go hand in hand, and then it would be alarming to proceed with development if the same impacts are not mitigated. Though efforts have been obviously made locally, it seems that some of these are to no avail. The same problems continue to confront the environment and its settlers. Perhaps this is a question of sustainability in terms of efforts geared because the problem may not have been properly addressed, or efforts may not have been sufficient.

The researchers intended to delve into this study as part of the tripartite environmental monitoring of one of Cagayan de Oro City's important water resources. The findings of this study will also help in designing interventions that would properly fit the situation and properly address the cause of the problem.


This study is anchored on the ecosystem concept that maintains an interconnectedness of its components. An ecosystem is a stable, self-regulating unit and to maintain itself, it must have a continuous input of energy (Enger and Smith, 2003). Such that, the continuous influx of energy through all components makes the system whole and functional. Any disturbance to a component then will affect the stability of the system. However, humans can take the responsibility in maintaining them. Any foreign and unnatural entity introduced into the river that is a dynamic system, can affect its stability. The contention of Schultz et al. (2004) supports this theory. Their study posits that the behavior of individuals developed about environmental issues is associated to the extent which the individual believes he is a part of nature. The environmental laws that are formulated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will limit the involvement of humans and their utilization of environmental resources.

The study is conducted to determine if the riverine ecosystem has water quality as it serves its intended uses under the Class A category.


The study is aimed at generating baseline information of the water quality of selected areas of Cagayan de Oro River for sustainable intervention. Specifically the study seeks to: 1) assess the water quality through water quality indicators; 2) determine the anthropogenic activities along the area; and 3) assess the level of environmental awareness of the anthropogenic factors and come up with a sustainable intervention to preserve and protect the water quality of Cagayan de Oro River.


The Study Area

This study focused on the 90-kilometer Sitio Balaun-Macajalar Bay Estuary stretch consisting of two upstream and one downstream stations.

7.2 The Research Design

The research design employed in this study is the descriptive type. It is most suited to describe the present water quality of CDO River in terms of the parameters to be tested.

The Research Setting

The Cagayan de Oro River originates a peak elevation of 2, 865 meters above sea level ( Figure 2) and finally drains through the different tributaries into the downstream portion.

The study considered one downstream and two upstream parts of the 90-km river stretch. The upstream parts are less densely populated and covered by grassland and forest while the downstream part is inhabited by dense human settlements.

Source: Google Earth, 2012

Figure 2. Map showing the different tributaries of CDO River

Collection of Data

7.3.1 Water Quality

The parameters considered in testing the water quality included pH, temperature, and total coliform. Flow rate was also assessed.

All parameters were collected in replicates employing grab sampling. The sampling procedure employed was based on standard methods provided in the WQMM as based on DAO-35.

Table 1 shows the sampling and preservation methods of the different water quality parameters.

The samples were analyzed at the DOST-10 Laboratory at Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City. The bucket method was employed in obtaining the flow rate. It is considered as an easy and simple method in obtaining the flow rate (WQMM, Revised 1996).

Survey on Environmental Awareness

Primary data on the environmental awareness was obtained using structured questionnaire. This was adapted from the studies of Miller et al. (2000) and Zoleta (2012).

The questionnaire was divided into three parts that yielded the following information.

1. Personal information

2. Awareness of the laws based on

2.1 need of the laws

2.2 benefits

3. Level of awareness of environmental management

4. Identifying environmental involvement of the residents

5. Media Resources

A4-point scale was used described respectively as very much aware, moderately aware, slightly aware, and unaware. The first description bears the highest point.

The survey process made use of random sampling from residents of 8 barangays that are situated along Cagayan de Oro River bank. A total then of eighty (80) respondents were surveyed, ten (10) from each barangay.

The results of the survey were tallied and translated into their statistical components, frequencies, and mean values.


Objective 1. To determine the water quality of Cagayan de Oro River in terms of its physicochemical and microbiological parameters

Table 2 presents the summary of the status of river water characteristics from April 2015 to June 2015 as compared with DENR standards.

On the microbiological aspect, all stations had values that were way beyond the standard of 1000 MPN/100 ml regardless of the season and, therefore, exhibited non-compliance with DENR standard. The minimum value observed was 2,400 MPN/100 ml observed at the Mambuaya station in the month of April. The maximum value was 146,000 MPN/100 ml observed at Poblacion Area in the month of May. This increase that is higher than that in the month of June may be due to seasonal influence. It was raining at the time that samples were collected. The likely cause, however, for the exceedingly high values in this station in all sampling periods is the dense settlement around this area. As for the former, this may be due to its location that is at the confluence of a smaller river, the Kalawaig River, that meets Cagayan de Oro Rver and Mangalay Creek. These areas are above Mambuaya, that are not densely populated which may have diluted the water in the Mambuaya station. The river above and creek, according to residents in the vicinity, are being used for washing their clothes and for taking a bath.

This conforms to the findings of McMurray and Pond (2002) and Boyer and Caccia (2005). Water quality is really "highly dependent on land use and influence from the watershed." If the surrounding area is composed of both residential and commercial types and is densely populated, therefore the pollution loading is expected to be high. This is true if the downstream area receives more wastewater conveyed through the outfalls located on the river banks. The additional pollution load after Mambuaya may be attributed to the additional wastewater coming from Bubunawan River, which receives wastewater from residential areas, and existing livestock and dressing plants.

While values obtained from April to June have exceeded the assimilable standard of DENR, these values now, compared to previous studies, especially by Zoleta in 2012, are much smaller with peak at 146.666 MPN/100ml. compared to previous study's peak datum of 566,667 MPN/100 ml.

Objective 2. To determine if there is a significant difference in the water quality sampling stations in Cagayan de Oro River in terms of the physical, chemical and microbiological characteristics

Table 3 shows the summary of the statistics on the test of difference per parameter in the month of April. Because the values are the same, these could not be statistically tested. For pH, F-computed value (229.24) is greater than F-critical value. This indicated a significant difference among stations which may be attributed to the effect of temperature in the month of May. For Total Coliform, the F-computed value (3.93) is less than the F-critical value indicating no significant difference in all stations. This finding implies that while the values are beyond the assimilable limits, the condition or degree of pollution throughout the stations is the same.

It can be gleaned from Table 4 that both pH and Total Coliform F-computed values (40.46 and 52.88 respectively) are greater than the F-Critical value indicating a significant difference among stations. For this period, the difference in pH, with the highest mean at Mambuaya station may be due to the dilution of the water with the ones coming from tributaries. As for Total Coliform, differences in values may also be attributed to the presence of tributaries at the Mambuaya confluence that caused the significant difference between Uguiaban Station and Mambuaya Station. Uguiaban Station yielded higher values due to the presence of poultry near the bridge.

However, Kalawaig River and Mangalay Creek, left-side tributaries meet with Uguiaban River and dilute the water and helps in the degradation of waste. Hence, total coliform values are reduced to the next station. The same trend is in agreement with the results obtained by Zoleta (2012) in these areas but values obtained at this time were much lower.

Table 5 shows the summary of the statistics on the test of difference per parameter in the month of April. The F-computed values were less than the F-critical values thus indicating no significant difference among the stations. This implies that while the values obtained were higher than the DENR assimilable values, the degree of pollution of the said stations in this period is the same. This result may be due to seasonal influence signaled by the cloudy conditions at the time of sampling that brought rain showers in all areas. However, the values obtained, while these are still beyond standard values, are much lower at this time compared to the consistently higher values obtained by Zoleta (2012).

Table 6 shows the result on the test of difference for pH and Total Coliform in all periods. Uguiaban station yielded a higher computed value (268.65) for all periods indicating a significant difference. The month of June had lower values (near neutrality) which may have been influenced by the start of the rainy season. The same condition applies to the other stations (Mambuaya -550.26 and Poblacion -60.82).

Except for Mambuaya, in terms of pH (by period) both Uguiaban and Poblacion Stations did not exhibit any significant difference in all periods. Hence, their conditions were the same. Mambuaya station yielded an F-computed value of 48.83 which indicated a significant difference in Total Coliform among stations within the three-month period. The month of June yielded values (22,666 MPN/100 ml) for Total Coliform that are significantly higher than in April and May with 4,300 MPN/100/ml and 6,300 MPN/100 ml respectively. The higher coliform value in the month of June may be caused by seasonal influence.

Then, all stations sampled are polluted, however, the extent of pollution compared to the study of Zoleta (2012) has reduced as well in all areas.

Objective 3. To find out the anthropogenic activities along CDO River

Table 7 and 8 show the business establishments in the upstream and downstream parts respectively, of CDO River. The nature of its product categories may influence the condition of the river system. These establishments operate with discharge permit and, under Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) conditions and therefore, are covered by the periodic monitoring process of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-10). Under the discharge conditions, they have to maintain a minimal waste flow discharge of 3,240 cc/year and under the ECC conditions they have to put up a waste treatment facility. However, the following violations per DENR records were seen from among the listed industries: no permit to operate, alleged black smoke emission of Asphalt Batching in 2001, exceedance in BOD in 2001non-compliance with required waste treatment facility in 1996, and washing of trays in the river.

Objective 4. To determine the level of environmental awareness of the barangay residents along CDO river

Table 9 shows the frequencies and mean values for awareness questions. The mean values were compared to the range of values adapted from G. Tyler Jr. (2000) with the range 3.26-4.00 as very much aware, 2.51-3.25 as moderately aware, 1.76-2.50 as slightly aware, and 1.00-1.75 as unaware. As shown in the environmental awareness questions, the highest mean (2.91) falls on item 1.5 "I am aware that barangay undertakings regarding environmental management will bring more benefits to the community" verbally described as moderately aware, respectively. On the other hand, the lowest mean (2.70) fall on item on "1.1 I am aware of the existing environmental laws" and in item 1.2 "I am aware that environmental laws are for the protection of the environment as well as water bodies" verbally described as moderately aware.


From the findings of this study, the following conclusions are drawn:

First, except for Total Coliform, the water quality of Cagayan de Oro River is in compliance with standard values. However water quality in terms of the microbiological characteristic is impaired.

Second, there is a significant difference in the water quality of the river between stations in terms pH and total coliform that are habitat- and season-influenced.

Third, the water quality of Cagayan de Oro River falls under Class A except for total coliform that went way beyond the minimum standards. Thus, it may be said that the Cagayan de Oro River stretch is organically polluted. The Pollution loading in terms of total coliform is higher than the standard values stipulated in DAO-34 and must require some measures to bring it back to Class A level.

Fourth, it is the downstream part of Cagayan River particularly the Poblacion areas that are greatly impacted by land-based pollution in terms of total coliform.

Finally, the potential sources of organic pollution are the residential, commercial, and industrial areas.


Policy Implication

The results of the study revealed a moderate level of environmental awareness among barangay residents hence more efforts should be geared toward intensifying this through more extensive Education Campaign, symposia, and seminars. The academe can contribute largely by strengthening and intensifying its community involvement through community extension. As a research-based educational institution, Liceo de Cagayan University should seek more ways to utilize the study results by continuing to conduct IECs and capacity-building seminars to educate the residents more and increase their level of environmental awareness. Moreover, a more stringent implementation of existing barangay ordinances on solid waste management should be enforced.

Management Implication

The Local Government Units should continue to monitor identified potential causes of pollution livestock and dressing plants in the upstream areas and come up with sustainable solid waste management practices. Storm drain clean-ups should be encouraged on a periodic basis at the barangay level.

Research Implication

It is recommended that future researchers should establish more sampling sites with additional water quality parameters like dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, nitrates and pesticides for more comprehensive results.


Boulton, A.J., Datry, T., Tamar, K., Mutz, M., & Standford, J.

2010 Ecology and Management of the Hyporheic Zone: Stream-Ground Water Interactions of Running Waters and their Flodd plains. Journal of the American Benthological Society, 29(1): 26-40.

Boyer, J.N. & Caccia, V.G.

2005 Spatial Patterning of Water Quality in Biscayne Bay, Florida as a Function of Land Use and Water Management. Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

Dowell, R.W. & Wilcock, McMuirray, R.J.

2008 Water Quality and Effects of Pastoral Animals. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Vol. 56, Issue 6.


Department Administrative Order No. 34, Series of 1990.

Enger, E.D. & Smith, B.F.

2002 Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships. New York: McGraw Hill

Lubos, L.C. & Japos, G.V.

2010 Extent of Escherichia Coli Contamination of Cagayan de Oro River and Factors Causing Contamination: A Translational Research in Southern Philippines. Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research. 6 (2): 44-49.

Lubos, L., Kim, M., Diong, C., & Lubos, L.

2012 Extent of Escherichia Coli Contamination of Cagayan de Oro River, Rotterdam. Biology Education for Social and Sustainable Development. pp 153-159.

Miller, M. C., Bush, M. B., De Oliveira, P. E., & Colinvaux, P. A.

2000 Two Histories of Environmental Change and Human Disturbance in Eastern Lowland Amazonia. The Holocene, 10(5), 543-553.

Orange County Water Au and Factors Causing Contamination 2008 Sense Publishersthority Stream Biomonitoring Study 2004-2007. Orange County

McMurray, S.E. & Pond, G.J.

2002 A Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment Index for Headwater Streams of the Eastern Coal field Region, Kentucky. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, Division of Water, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Schultz, P.W., Shimmer, C., Tabanico, J., & Khazian, A.Z.

2004 Implicit Connections with Nature. Journal of Psychology, 24(1): 31-42.

Zoleta, J.M.

2004. Anthropogenic Influence to the Water Quality of Cagayan de Oro River: Basis for an Intervention Design. Liceo de Cagayan University. unpub


ORCID No. 0000-0002-8251-6822


ORCID No. 0000-0001-6479-2834

Liceo de Cagayan University Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines
Table 1. Sampling and Preservation Methods (Water Quality Parameters)

                  MATERIAL      OF      NUMBER OF      PRESERVATION
                              SAMPLE   SAMPLES/SITE

pH                *P,*G         50          3        Cool, 4[deggres]C
Temperature                    On-site determination
Flow Rate                      On-site determination
Total Coliform    P            500          3        Cool 4[deggres]C


pH                   6
Flow Rate
Total Coliform       6

Table 2. Summary of the status of CDO River based on DENR standards
(Class A)

Parameter                DENR STD         April        May
                        (Class A)
Flow Rate              NA (No DENR        Exhibited    US-1.88
                     standard value)      Consistency  MS-1.61
                                          US-1.88      NB-1.128
Temparature       Max rise (3[degrees]C)  COMPLIED     COMPLIED
                                          US-24        US-25
                                          MS-25        MS-26
                                          PS-27        PS-28
pH                       6.5-8.5          COMPLIED     COMPLIED
                                          US-8.16      US-8.27
                                            -8.15        -8.29
                                            -8.10        -8.29
                                          MS-8.26      MS-8.32
                                            -8.25        -8.29
                                            -8.27        -8.36
                                          PS-7.91      PS-8.04
                                            -7.89        -8.12
                                            -7.88        -8.01
Microbiological                                        NOT COMPLIED
Total Coliform         1000.MPN/100         US1-9,200    US1-3,500
                            ml              US2-9,200   US2-17,000
                                            U53-3,500   US3-11,000
                                              X-7,300     X-10,500
                                            MS1-3,500    MS1-5,400
                                            MS2-2,400    Ms2-9,200
                                            MS3-7,000    MS3-3,500
                                              X-4,300      X-6,033
                                           PS1-92,000  PS1-160,000
                                           PS2-54,000  PS2-110,000
                                          PS3-110,00   PS3-170,000
                                             X-85,000    X-146,666

Parameter         June

Flow Rate         US-2.28

Temparature       COMPLIED
pH                COMPLIED
Total Coliform     US1-79,000

US--Uguiaban Station
MS--Mambuaya Station
PS--Poblacion Station

Table 3. Statistics on Test of Difference by Station, Month of April

Parameter       F-Computed Value   At 5% Critical Value

Flow rate       station -No Value
                period -
Temperature     Station-No Value
PH              Station-229.24             (*)
Total Coliform  Station-3.93               (**)

(*) - There is significant difference among stations
(**) - There is no significant difference among stations

Table 4. Statistics on Test of Difference by Station, Month of May

Parameter       F-Computed Value    At 5% Critical Value

Flow rate       station - No Value
Temperature     station - No Value
PH              Station -40,46              (*)
Total Coliform  Station -52.88              (*)

(*) - There is significant difference among stations
(**) - There is no significant difference among stations

Table 5. Statistics on the Test of Difference by Station, Month of June

Parameter       F-Computed Value    At 5% Critical Value

Flow rate       station - No Value
                                          No Value
Temperature     Station - No Value
PH              Station -0.04               (**)
Total Coliform  Station - 0.48              (**)

(*) - There is significant difference among stations
(**) - There is no significant difference among stations

Table 6. Statistics on Test of Difference by Parameter and by Period

Parameter       F-Computed Value  At 5% Critical Value

Flow rate       No Value
Temperature     No Value
pH              Period- 268.65            (**)
 Uguiaban       Period- 550.26            (**)
 Mambuaya       Period-  60.82            (**)
Total Coliform
 Uguiaban       Period-   2.01            (*)
 Mambuaya       Period-  48.33            (**)
 Poblacion      Period-   2.26            (*)

(*) - There is significant difference among stations
(**) - There is no significant difference among stations

Table 7. Business Establishments in the Upstream Part of CDO River

Trade Name                 Address                    Product Category

Vista de Rio               Sitio Maasin, Nicdao.      Livestock
Farm                       Baungon Bukidnon
YSD Agri-Ventures
Corporation                Kibawe, Libona. Bukidnon   Broiler
Nicdao, Baungon, Bukidnon  Nicdao. Baungon. Bukidnon  Cassava Starch
Phil-Agro Industrial       Sitio Maasin, Baungon.     Cassava Starch
Corporation                Bukidnon
Five Jewels Piggery        Sitio Maasin, Nicdao.      Swine Breeding
Farm                       Baungon. Bukidnon          Fattening
VDR Farm                   Sitio Maasin, Nicdao.      Dressing Plant
                           Baungon, Bukidnon
Zoos (Menzi)               Talakag, Bukidnon          Paper Recycling

Source: DENR-EMB

Table 8. Mineral Production Establishments in the Downstream Part CDO
River, 2013

Location         Mineral        Area     Volume
               Production     (in has.)   (cu.

Balulang     Sand and Gravel    1          -
Consolacion  Sand and Gravel    2        4,950
Kauswagan    Sand and Gravel    0.95       450
Macasandig   Sand and Gravel    1        1,100

Table 9. Frequencies and Mean Values for Awareness Questions

Questions                Ft  F2  F3  F4  Total    X     Descriptive
                                                (mean)    Measures
                          4   3   2   1

Environmental Awareness
1. Existing laws and
1.1 I am aware of        32  33  12   3   80    3.17     Moderately
existing laws                                              Aware
1.2 I am aware that      41  18  12   5   80    3.29     Very Much
environmental laws                                         Aware
are for the protection
of the environment
1.3 I am aware that      31  30  11   8   80    3.05     Moderately
environmental laws                                         Aware
are implemented in
our barangay
1.4 I am aware of        30  23  20   7   80    2.94     Moderately
projects carried out to                                    Aware
intensively implement
environmental laws
1.5 I am aware that      45  22  11   2   80    3.33     Very Much
barangay                                                   Aware
management will
bring benefits to the
Overall                                         3.20     Moderately
On Waste Management
2.1 I am aware           55  19   3   3   80    3.58     Very Much
that household                                             Aware
wastes should be
segregated at
2.2 I am aware           46  26   6   2   80    3.46     Very Much
that segregation                                           Aware
at source can be
done through
recycling and
2.3 I am aware           60  13   5   2   80    3.64    Very Much 21
that waste thrown                                          Aware
anywhere can
cause clogging of
canals leading to
street clogging
2.4 I am aware           49  21   8   2   80    3.42     Very Much
that open burning                                          Aware
is prohibited by
2.5 I am aware           69   5   2   4   80    3.77     Very Much
that direct                                                Aware
throwing of
garbage to the
river can cause
Overall                                         3.57     Very Much
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Author:Zoleta, Judy Marie R.; Nawang, Abundol A.
Publication:Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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