The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct a house-to-house and resort-to-resort inspection to check the sewer connections on Boracay Island, the country’s top tourist destination, in Malay, Aklan.
This was disclosed by DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, International Affairs and Foreign-Assisted Projects Jonas R. Leones following Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s directive to crack down on erring establishments that are contributing to water pollution in Boracay.
The DENR is now closely coordinating with the Deptartment of Tourism (DOT) to identify
establishments that are discharging their untreated wastewater directly to the sea, or illegally connecting to the drainage system of the DOT’s Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza).
Leones said all tourism establishments on the island are required to connect to the sewage-treatment plant of the Boracay Island Water Co. (BIWC).
Instead of connecting to the BIWC treatment plant, Leones added, some establishments have reportedly tapped into Tieza’s drainage system, which is only intended for rainwater.
This, he said, is a clear violation of laws and policies, including the Clean Water Act.
The Tieza drainage pipes, he added , can only accommodate rainwater. “Wastewater should not be directed there,” he said, explaining that the pipes overflow and wastewater are discharged directly to Boracay beach.
According to Leones, the inspection of the establishments will determine which are illegally connected to the drainage pipes.
“With the huge number of establishments on the island, we have to trace the source and endpoint,” he said.
He added the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is tasked to ensure that all industries comply with the effluent standards. “If these firms can manage their wastewater through good housekeeping, that will be fine. But if they cannot, wastewater should be treated.”
A notice of violation will be issued against erring establishments, after which the owners or managers will be called to a technical conference. The violator will be given two months to address their violations. The EMB is also tasked to evaluate the violator’s compliance with corrective measures ordered by the DENR.
If the issues were not addressed, the EMB can elevate the case to the Pollution Adjudication Board, with a recommendation to issue a cease-and-desist order against the violator.
Cimatu, who was tasked by President Duterte to act on the environmental problems besetting the top tourist destination, has issued a stern warning that he will not hesitate to close down establishments found to be releasing untreated wastewater and sewage into the beach.
“We need a serious and honest-to-goodness crackdown on these erring establishments that are contributing to the water pollution in Boracay,” he said.
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