Palace eases shutdown fears for tourism gem amid wastewater woes

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2018 03:44 PM

THE NEXT BORACAY? A Palace official on Monday eased fears that Panglao Island will face a shutdown after fecal coliform levels found in seawater near the island exceeded the standard set by the Environmental Management Bureau. 

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said a new wastewater facility underneath the new Panglao International Airport will handle sewage on the island. 

"It is already in place, right under the new international airport of Panglao so the prospects for Panglao are good. In Mactan, I am not aware of a centralized water treatment facility," he said, referring to another island with high fecal coliform levels. 

He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is cracking down on Panglao resorts without their own wastewater facility or attached to a centralized water treatment facility in compliance with the Water Code. 

"You cannot discharge untreated wastewater into the sea," he said. 

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report earlier said fecal coliform reached 150 to 200 most probable number (MPN) in Panglao and 180 to 250 MPN in Mactan, according to an environment study. The figures exceed the acceptable concentration of 100 MPN per 100 milliliters, which is considered safe for swimming and water sports.

William Cuñado, director of the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) in Central Visayas, has said the bureau has a list of establishments with no proper water waste management system. 

"If they can confine their [waste] water system, then they can continue operations but if not, then they have to stop," he said.

Cuñado said cease and desist orders will be issued to establishments that will not comply, and these will eventually be recommended for closure. 

A paper on Domestic Water Quality and Sanitation in Panglao Island published last December 2017 said 24 of 26 sampled water sources "were positive for fecal contamination."

"This suggests that 92% of the wells tested are positive for E. coli and are therefore unfit for drinking purposes," it added.