DENR orders big Boracay beachfront hotels to have own sewage plant

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2018 06:33 PM

MANILA - Hotels and resorts that operate at least 50 rooms along Boracay island's White Beach will be required to have their own sewage treatment facilities, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said Thursday, two months into the island's half-year closure and rehabilitation.

"Dapat hindi na sila nakakonekta sa (They should not be connected to the) sewage plant [ng isla], but [be connected] to their own treatment plant. Their deadline is September," Cimatu told reporters.

The island's problematic sewage disposal, which went straight to Boracay's waters, had prompted the closure and unprecedented cleanup of the world-renowned beach destination. 

Hotels and resorts that fail to comply with the order will not be allowed to re-open in October, the expected resumption of tourism activities in Boracay, Cimatu said.

Prior to the announcement of this new policy, the government had already been issuing "discharge permits" to hotels and other establishments that operate their own sewage treatment plants.

Businesses with discharge permits were allowed to operate even without sewer connections as the document supposedly guaranteed that the buildings were capable of treating their own wastewater.

The Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC), one of two water and sewage treatment service providers in Boracay, earlier warned against the construction of wastewater treatment facilities in tourism establishments.

“It is not the core competence of hotels to manage a wastewater facility. Cumbersome 'yun ha kasi marumi 'yun, ang baho (because it's dirty and smelly),” BIWC General Manager John Michael Santos told ABS-CBN News in an interview prior to the island's closure.

“Imagine, if you would be issuing 50 discharge permits, the next question is: Do you have the ability to test day in and day out all these establishments if they are complying?” he added.

As of 2017, nearly 20 hotels on the island received discharge permits from the DENR, local records showed.

LACK OF SEWERS

Santos, however, admitted that some hotels and resorts had to build their own treatment plants despite the risks due to the lack of sewage lines on the island that is already congested with buildings and houses.

As of April 2018, BIWC only had sewage pipes laid out in two of the three villages in Boracay, company records showed.

Santos said BIWC is set to construct a 24-kilometer sewage network in Barangay Yapak next year.

The Boracay Tubi System Inc., the other water provider on the island, is building a new 1-kilometer water line to increase its water supply capacity but has yet to put up its own sewerage system.

BTSI is still conducting “feasibility studies” before it builds its own sewage pipes on the island, BTSI project manager Jephony Gelito told ABS-CBN News.