First water treatment of its kind in the Philippines

Complying with strictest regulations, May Harvest uses unique wastewater concepts

May Harvest Water Treatment Basin

May Harvest’s new water treatment plant is the first of its kind in the Philippines. Fish swimming in the water basin, ‘cleaning’ a polluted creek and irrigation with recycled water are unique concepts in the country. Despite lockdowns and typhoons, the project was implemented very smoothly and very fast, supported remotely by Marel. Efren Martinez, president and chairman of the board of May Harvest Corporation, talks about the project.

“When we started this plant in 1997, we already had our own small water treatment installation. We had plenty of capacity at the time but, after expanding our poultry processing plant from 6,000 bph to 10,000 bph [100 to 166 bpm], the volume of wastewater increased considerably. That’s why we needed additional capacity. We asked Marel to show us an operational site of this size in Europe and Mike Jansen (Industry Sales Manager Marel Water) invited us to see a wastewater treatment plant in Netherlands. This convinced us to partner up with Marel. Now our water treatment system is designed for 10,000 birds.”

Regulations in the Philippines

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines requires every factory, especially manufacturing units, to have a wastewater treatment plant. “But only very few companies are able to comply with these regulations. I think we are the first and only company in the Philippines to run such a water treatment plant according to the strictest rules.”

May Harvest Fishing


John Fuentes, May Harvest project manager, says, “Fortunately, our chairman had the early foresight to install a big aeration basin right away. With a volume of around 6000 cubic meters, we did not need to reconstruct it. Based on our existing system, we installed two curved screens, an equalization tank, a pre-treatment facility with a dissolved air flotation unit (DAF) and a new Clarifier.

Water supply

For water supply, May Harvest pumps water from their own spring water well. But the company is keen on reducing water consumption. It’s not required by the government, but it’s a company priority. May Harvest really is a front-runner here. “Until now, we have been able to reduce our water requirement per bird from 18 liters down to 12. By recycling our wastewater, we will able to even decrease that to 10 or 9 liters per bird. That’s our goal,” says Efren Martinez.

May Harvest Water Treatment Efren Martinez

Fish tank

John Fuentes adds, “The water in the aeration basin has a brown color, which is a sign of very healthy bacteria cleaning our water. Actually, we have fish swimming in our clarifier. We want to show our visitors the high quality of our treated water, that livable species can survive in the water we are treating. If they can survive, it means our system is working. In fact, we’re not calling it dirty water anymore. The only thing is we cannot drink it.

Cleaning the creek

“We are recycling the water for irrigation of rice fields right beside our premises. We are also pumping it back to some dirty areas of the factory, to clean the floors, the coops and the truck tires. We are reusing 30% of the total water that we are treating. The other 70% is discharged to a pretty polluted creek. We’re surrounded by other local farms that dump animal byproducts in the same creek. We took water samples before and after our plant to show that our discharged water volumes actually dilute the pollution and clean the creek.”

“We’re not calling it dirty water anymore. The only thing is we cannot drink it.”

Efren Martinez
president and chairman of the board of May Harvest Corporation

Lockdowns and typhoons

Despite the lockdowns in the Philippines due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction continued. The difficult part, however, was the absence of the foreign Marel engineers. “But we found a way of working that was very beneficial for both parties. We had virtual meetings every other day and we were able to communicate transparently with pictures and videos. We could ask or post questions, followed by really quick replies from Marel. Eventually, one Marel engineer succeeded in coming over to us and it took him only two weeks to get the entire system in operation,” says Efren Martinez.

“The construction process went very smoothly, without any delay, despite typhoons and other bad weather. Within eight months, we were able to build everything. We could even keep our existing processing systems in use during construction. All this was only possible through the efforts of our staff and Marel’s remote support, which we really appreciate.”

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May Harvest Water Treatment Drone View

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