By Madelaine B. Miraflor
As the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) starts decommissioning an illegal sewage pipeline near the shoreline owned and operated by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Autority (TIEZA) and Ayala-controlled Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC), hundreds of hotels and other big establishments in the island have been ordered to set up their own sewage treatment plants (STPs).
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said DENR is enforcing Presidential Directive 2018-0081 requiring all resorts in the country to have wastewater treatment facilities, noting that the sewage problem in Boracay island poses threats to the environment, residents and tourists.
Under a DENR draft circular, all resorts and similar establishments located along Boracay’s white/long beach from Stations 1 to 3 with 50 rooms or more are required to have individual STPs, while those with 49 rooms and below can have clustered STPs.
Those who will fail to comply will be issued notices of violation or cease and desist orders.
Cimatu stressed that decommissioning BIWC’s sewage pipeline is a must since it violates the 25 plus 5-meter easement rule and no-build zone along the shoreline.
He added that the sewer pipeline goes under sea water during high tide and Habagat season thereby adding to the contamination and posing health hazards to residents and tourists.
As this developed, the DENR chief ordered BIWC and Boracay Tubi Systems, Inc. (BTSI) – the island’s two water suppliers – to expand the capacity of their respective sewerage treatment plants to help solve the island’s sewage woes.
Per estimates, Cimatu said the total STP capacity of Boracay is only 12 million liters per day (MLD) but the wastewater to be treated is 15 MLD. Hence, he stressed that both companies must expand capacity to avoid the same problem when Boracay reopens in October.
He said the DENR team discovered that more than 200 big establishments are still not connected to the sewer lines of BIWC and TIEZA.