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DENR to verify Boracay water treatment capacity

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CRECENCIO I. CRUZ

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said his department will meet with Boracay’s water concessionaire, Manila Water Co., Inc. to discuss its potential capacity for offering expanded waste water treatment services.

The discussions follow President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s threat to shut down the resort island last week, after it emerged that a number of establishments are not connected to the island’s sewage system.

“We requested (the meeting). We will check their capability to put up a treatment facility there,” Mr. Cimatu told BusinessWorld.

“We will be meeting them if they have the capability to provide so that in six months, we can completely connect everyone [to a proper waste water treatment system]. These are our intentions,” he added.

Should Manila Water be unable to provide the required additional capacity, Mr. Cimatu said that the president had given the order that all the establishments on Boracay must develop their own water treatment facility.

“The sewage system because (is) the number one problem now. The second problem is that there are several buildings that intruded into the beach and there are creeks there that they covered up which cause flooding.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct an inspection on March 1 of all establishments and homes.

The Department also issued a statement on Tuesday, warning commercial establishments that release untreated waste water to connect to the sewage treatment plant run by Manila Water unit Boracay Island Water Company, Inc. (BIWC) or have their own wastewater treatment facilities within two months.

BIWC was created as a joint venture with Manila Water Philippine Ventures and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority.

Establishments will have their operations shut down if they do not comply within two months. The DENR will issue a notice of violation to the non-compliant establishments that will be given three to five days to respond.

Mr. Cimatu said non-compliant parties will be handed down penalties by the Pollution Adjudication Board under the DENR’s Environment Management Bureau.

While around 50% to 60% of businesses on Boracay are compliant under the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, Mr. Cimatu said that around 300 establishments are dumping their untreated waste water directly into the sea or canals.

The DENR will also go after establishments that set up buildings in protected areas and creeks, which are considered to be no-build zones.

The department has also issued a new directive to bar the construction of new buildings on Boracay. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato