Environment and Natural Resources Ramon J.P. Paje, has called for collective effort by the national and local governments, businesses, and residents to address water quality problems in Boracay.
“All stakeholders, who benefit from the various tourism and business opportunities of the island, should help maintain the good quality of its beaches,” Paje said following a report that bacterial levels in Boracay waters are extremely high, significantly exceeding DENR guidelines for recreational water.
The environment chief said the evident cause of beach pollution, which can be a big turn off for most of the tourists, is the lack of proper drainage system in the area.
Thus, he called for completion of the ongoing sewerage and drainage improvements on the island to help reduce the amount of pollutants directly discharged to surface water and groundwater.
“Concerned authorities, particularly the local government of Malay, Aklan and the Department of Tourism which heads the Boracay Task Force should look into the situation especially since the summer season is fast approaching and we are expecting highest tourist influx at this time,” he said.
The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau office in Western Visayas had earlier reported that coliform bacteria levels in a drainage outlet that empties into the sea in Sitio Bulabog in Boracay exceed safe standards and reach 47,460 most probable number (mpn) per 100 milimeter (ml).
The safe level is 1,000 mpn/100ml for waters for swimming and other human contact activities.
Apart from posing serious health and sanitary problems, coliform bacteria could also adversely affect aquatic resources, including marine life and coral reefs which, aside from the powdery white sand beaches, form part of the island’s main attractions.
Paje said that he already instructed the local DENR office to closely monitor establishments and apprehend violators of the Clean Water Act.
He also reiterated his appeal to the local government to withhold issuing business permits to establishments that do not have a discharge permit or connection to the sewerage system.
At the same time, Paje urged commercial establishments and residents to practice self-regulation in improving the water quality of the island paradise.
“Let us not wait to be penalized for not complying with environmental policies and local ordinances. Taking the initiative to connect with the drainage and sewerage system benefits everybody and the environment,” he pointed out. #