Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu (center) inspects pipes buried in a beach on Boracay island over the weekend. Cimatu has ordered the use of ground-penetrating radar to detect pipes buried in the island’s beaches. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has detected around 33 pipes that illegally discharge water. Three of the pipelines tested positive for wastewater.
DENR: Boracay reopening depends on water quality
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The reopening of Boracay to tourists will depend on the coliform level in the water of the island-resort  – from a most probable number (MPN) reaching millions to only 400 per 100 millimeters.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the coliform level should be brought down to a standard of 400 MPN within the next five months before the island could be reopened.

Cimatu said the coliform level in some areas of Boracay registered between 10,000 to 72,000 MPN per 100 ml. Others are in millions.

“I told the establishments in Boracay that the coliform level will be the basis of the reopening. Unless we stabilize it, I will not recommend the reopening,” Cimatu said during the sidelines of the International Day for Biological Diversity celebration on Monday.

He said relocating informal settlers from the wetland areas to mainland Panay is one of the most effective ways of cleaning the island.

He said these settlers contribute greatly to the island’s sewage and drainage problem.

The Boracay interagency task force is preparing some relocation centers in Aklan.

Also being looked into are the pipes that discharge wastewater directly into the sea, a condition Cimatu described as unacceptable.

“These pipelines at the beachfront are non-negotiable. They have to be removed. The water that comes out of these is very smelly and unhealthy. It’s been almost a month since the closure, but there’s not much improvement in the water quality. We get very erratic water sampling results,” he said.

Both the government and the private sector agreed to build sewerage treatment plants (STP) in major hotels and other business establishments.

Under the plan, those that have at least 50 rooms are required to install their own STP.

Those that have less may opt to construct a cluster STP with neighboring establishments.

Cimatu ordered a moratorium on all building construction. – With Rhodina Villanueva, Louise Maureen Simeon, Jennifer Rendon

BORACAY CLOSURE COLIFORM LEVEL SEWERAGE TREATMENT PLANTS
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