Philippines

Sewage mess drives Boracay into ‘cesspool’

Sewage mess drives Boracay into ‘cesspool’
By Rom Dulfo

BORACAY (Philippines News Agency) — Two months after someone finally had the will to address the “crisis” in Boracay, the government has hunted down business establishments breaching management standards, in a bid to restore Boracay’s glory.

These multi-billion properties, after all, cared less about their sewage.

As a result, the sewerage problem in the country’s iconic beach festered both residents and tourists here for years, with fecal coliform levels reported critical in some areas.

The interior department stands clear on the issue: these business establishments have committed gross legal breaches, contributing to a “dysentery cesspool” Boracay, as President Rodrigo Duterte called it.

The growth of green algae in Boracay’s waters has been a huge concern, as studies show that the slimy green waters are a sign of worsening pollution in the country’s central tourist destination.

According to Aizer Cajegas, a scientist based in Western Visayas, the algal bloom that besieges the country’s iconic island is a result of poor waste management in the area.

“I was in Boracay last February, I was telling a client here that Boracay will face a straining algal bloom come March or April. That time, I was already seeing the quality of water, it was too smelly,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“That fecal (coliform) is a nutrient of algae, it also has phosphates and nitrates which are nutrients of algae. So there you have it, an algal bloom,” he continued.

As of April 25, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said out of the 195 establishments not connected to sewer lines, 121 were already inspected.

DENR said 44 out of the 195 establishments which do not connect to sewer lines have already restored to water lines.

The department also said it has already issued 23 notices of violations to various resorts and hotels for breaching business standards.

For his part, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, in an interview Tuesday, encouraged all stakeholders to participate in the island’s rehabilitation, calling on them to help restore Boracay’s beauty “for the next generation”.

“We left the problem of sewage, solid waste and other pollutive activities to the tender mercies. We let greed and neglect, as President Duterte so emphatically noted, turn this jewel into a “cesspool,” he said.

Multi-billion dollar establishments may have gained the upper-hand for the last years, as profit overwhelmingly prevailed over environmental justice.

This time, however, it’s time to turn the tables. (PNA)

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