bacuit bay
DENR, EMB, LGU eye to make Bacuit Bay
swimmable again by May 2019

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Management Bureau, with the cooperation of the local government of El Nido in Palawan, are aiming to bring back the water quality in some portions of Bacuit Bay as Class SB or suitable for ecotourism and recreational activities, such as bathing, swimming, and skin diving.

This, the agencies are eyeing to achieve in May 2019 by establishing Bacuit Bay as Water Quality Management Area (WQMA) in consonance with the provisions of Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004. WQMA is an integrated water quality management system designed to protect and save bodies of water through the collaborative efforts of the government and various stakeholders.

“Water quality management is one of the priorities of Secretary Cimatu, and the establishment of Bacuit Bay WQMA adheres to the major thrusts of his administration. We look forward to having a sustained and collective action towards saving Bacuit Bay and the rest of our natural resources here in El Nido,” Assistant Secretary for Field Operations - Southern Luzon Reynulfo Juan said during the First Environmental Forum held in preparation for the proposed Bacuit Bay WQMA.

The forum, which was held at El Nido’s Legislative Building on January 29, was organized by EMB - MIMAROPA Region to orient stakeholders on the stages of establishing a water quality management area. These stages involve public consultations and the creation of a governing board that would craft and implement a 10-year action plan to address water quality issues specific to the locality. The members of the board shall be composed of representatives from pertinent national government agencies, local government units, water utility and business sectors.

“We can say that this is a progress made in line with El Nido’s six month rehabilitation period, which would end in May. Masaya ako na nandito tayo para makibahagi sa paglilinis ng Bacuit Bay. Tayo ang kalikasan dito sa El Nido,” Mayor Nieves Rosento remarked in her opening message.

Around 200 participants—mostly commercial establishment owners and business operators, as well as representatives of pertinent government agencies—attended the forum and actively participated in the discussions to save Bacuit Bay.

“The number of attendees shows that we are ready to take part in the protection and conservation of our environment. I hope this forum would serve as our guide in performing our respective roles in protecting Bacuit Bay and preventing it from turning into another Boracay,” DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado stated.

Saving Bacuit Bay

Similar to the famous island of Boracay, Bacuit Bay in El Nido has been receiving thousands of tourists all over the world annually because of its majestic beach and crystalline waters. Unfortunately, the inflow of tourists and human activities contributed to the degradation of the environment in El Nido, specifically the water quality in Bacuit Bay. Business establishments and households discharge untreated waste water directly into the bay resulting in high levels of total and fecal coliform.

To address this, the DENR has created Task Force El Nido as early as February 2018 to spearhead coastal cleanup and ensure strict enforcement of environmental rules and regulations in town. The task force, which is composed of personnel from the regional and provincial offices of DENR and EMB in MIMAROPA, works closely with the local government and concerned agencies such as the Department of Tourism, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Philippine Reclamation Area and Philippine Coast Guard, to name a few.

To date, Task Force El Nido has served notices to vacate to structures protruding to declared easement zones; and notices of violation to those who fail to comply with environmental regulations, especially those that concern discharge of untreated waste water.

On November 28, 2018, at the height of rehabilitating tourist destinations in the country following the successful reopening of Boracay, Secretaries Roy Cimatu (DENR), Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (DOT) and Eduardo Año visited El Nido for an intergency meeting and site inspection.

Based on the evaluation of the agency heads, El Nido was spared from being closed down, but was given six months to address problematic areas, such as the water quality in Bacuit Bay. The DENR Secretary gave specific instructions to restore the bay and even ordered banning of swimming in areas found to have high coliform levels. Signages are now in place to restrict tourists from bathing and swimming in the areas.

“We are mindful of the instructions of Secretary Cimatu and we recognize the urgency to establish WQMA in Bacuit Bay, which we expect to take place in November 2019,” EMB MIMAROPA Regional Director Michael Drake Matias said.

RD Matias was referring to the pressing need to bring down high coliform levels found in Bacuit Bay. While the figures went down towards the end of 2018, some areas still fail to meet the water quality guidelines of 100 Most Probable Number (MPN)/100ml for Class SB waters (Department Administrative Order 2016-08).

Based on the water testing conducted on December 28, 2018, the coliform levels were recorded as follows: Brgy Masagana - 110 MPN/100ml, Brgy. Maligaya 130 MPN/100ml, and Brgy. Buena Suerte 130 MPN/100ml.

The same water sampling also revealed swollen coliform levels from four outfalls that drain into the bay: Cabugao - 79,000 MPN/100ml; Masagana - 13,000 MPN/100ml, El Nido Estero - 11,000MPN/100ml and Corong-corong - 17,000 MPN/100ml.

As such, topics discussed during the environmental forum not only included the phases and boundaries of the proposed Bacuit Bay WQMA. Waste water treatment technologies, possible financing institutions that would help commercial establishments improve their facilities, and application process in securing DENR permits and other requirements (discharge permit, permit to operate, hazardous generator’s ID, and designation of a pollution control officer), were also tackled to inform stakeholders of their role in preventing further degradation of water quality in Bacuit Bay.

Currently, DENR is working with the LGU to put up a one-stop-shop to assist concerned stakeholders in complying with the abovementioned requirements. Following the instructions of Secretary Cimatu to dedicate a large portion of the DENR presence in Palawan to focus on the efforts of Task Force El Nido, the agency is also working on building an additional office and a bacteriological laboratory where the EMB can immediately perform necessary water tests without having to fly back to Manila every now and then.

“There is still so much to be done but we are banking on the same unified efforts we manifested in the early undertakings of Task Force El Nido. We are confident that as we meet our ultimatum in May 2019, we can present to the public an improved water quality in Bacuit Bay that is safe and fit for bathing and swimming,” RED Adornado concluded. ###

 

News

 

 

 

DENR removes illegal sewage line in El Nido, Palawan; prepares charges against owners of hidden pipes in the island

el nido

 

     The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - MIMAROPA Region on Saturday excavated from the beachfront of a hotel establishment in El Nido, Palawan, a  PVC pipeline illegally installed within the town’s declared easement zone.

     Detected through the ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey conducted by the Central and MIMAROPA Regional offices of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau,  the pipeline measuring six inches in diameter and six meters in length was uncovered in front of Outpost Beach Hostel in Brgy. Corong-corong. It was also found discharging black and foul-smelling liquid directly into Bacuit Bay, one of the province’s ecotourism sites undergoing massive rehabilitation. 

     To confirm the source of the wastewater, the regional Environmental Management Bureau used a green tracer solution into Outpost Beach Hostel’s last chamber to which the excavated pipe was connected. After almost 20 minutes, the green solution drained into the said pipe, indicating that the said establishment was the one discharging wastewater from the tank. The EMB shall be conducting further investigation to determine if there are other sources of wastewater discharge aside from the hostel. 

     Paul Sepulveda, one of the co-owners of Outpost Beach Hostel in Brgy. Corong-corong, admitted that they owned the pipe.

     Nevertheless, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado ordered immediate removal of the sewage line as it violates provisions of PD 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines, which prohibits any structures within the easement zones without permission from the government. 

      “The law is clear, and so was our appeal to everybody to cooperate with us in rehabilitating El Nido. We will continue to implement measures to find out if there are others who are doing the same and continuously disregarding our call to follow the rule of law. We will hold them responsible,” RED Adornado remarked. 

     The management of Outpost Beach Hostel volunteered to cut the sewage line but contested they were able to secure a discharge permit and the effluent samples taken from their sewage treatment facility passed the water quality guidelines of the DENR. 

     It can be recalled that the establishment was issued a Notice of Violation by the EMB for releasing wastewater exceeding the standards. Sepulveda said they are currently complying their commitments with the EMB. 

     Last year, the DENR created Task Force El Nido to spearhead the restoration of the famous island paradise found beset by environmental problems, such as encroachment of easement zones and high coliform levels in Bacuit Bay. The DENR, together with the local government unit of El Nido, has organized several stakeholders meetings to inform and engage both the residents and business establishments owners in restoring the beauty and cleanliness of the famous beach destination. Under the directive of Secretary Roy Cimatu, the DENR has also also pronounced to be more aggressive in enforcing the laws against anyone who would violate the environment.

      “The Outpost Beach Hostel’s continuous use of hidden sewage lines despite our warnings is a clear violation of the law and a blatant disregard for the environment that provides them livelihood. They are also putting the lives of tourists and residents in danger as they continue to pollute Bacuit Bay,” the director noted. 

      “We have no choice but to perform necessary actions to prevent them from further degrading nature,” he stated.   

     Meanwhile, the excavation site was filled with sand using the backhoe sent by the local government of El Nido. The end of the cut pipe was left open for sampling and analysis by the EMB. 

     “We have to remind everyone that we are preparing Bacuit Bay as Water Quality Management Area so we shall be conducting regular water sampling and analysis not only to Outpost Beach Hostel but also to other establishments to ensure they do not discharge untreated wastewater into Bacuit Bay,” EMB Regional Director Michael Drake Matias said. 

     Besides regular effluent sampling, the DENR and the MGB have been conducting GPR survey of the coastal areas of El Nido since March 18 to detect buried waste pipelines. They are calling business establishments to take Outpost Beach Hostel as an example to avoid interruption in their business operations.

     “You cannot hide them (pipes) forever. We will eventually uncover them so we advise you to remove your illegal sewage lines and comply with the laws for your own good,”  MGB MIMAROPA Regional Director Roland De Jesus stated. 

     The DENR, EMB and MGB in MIMAROPA vowed to impose maximum penalty to any establishments found continuously breaking environmental rules and regulations; and employ unified action to ensure environment protection remains as top priority.### 

 

 

Photo Releases

January 27, 2019. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – MIMAROPA Region supports the “Battle for Manila Bay,” the 192-kilometer harbour that has become part of its home for decades now.

 

"Hindi po magiging ganito kaganda ang El Nido kung hindi ito nai-proklama bilang isang Protected Area."

-Vice Mayor Leonor Corral

DENR Palawan and CENRO PPC personnel joined the 1st SUBARAW Biodiversity Festival Parade and Float Competition last November 11, 2018 at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

"Di po namin kaya kung kami lang sa DENR ang kikilos kaya nagpapasalamat po kami sa ating lokal na pamahalaan at mga partner agencies na kasama namin sa nakaraan at sa susunod pang 20 taon ng pangangalaga sa El Nido."

-Regional Executive Director Henry A. Adornado

"Napakasarap po sa pakiramdam na sa nakaraan 20 taon, nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon mapangalagaan at maprotektahan ang El Nido, ang ating kalikasan. Makakaasa po ang ating mga kababayan, ang DENR, na patuloy nating poprotektahan ang El Nido, dahil ito ay ating tahanan"

-Mayor Nieves Rosento

Themed "Nurturing shared responsibility for biodiversity conservation, the event celebrates two decades of concerted efforts of various stakeholders in protecting, saving and conserving El Nido

Taytay CENRO Pablo Cruz welcomes guests at the 20th anniversary celebration of ENTMRPA. "We thank you and reconize your roles in making our activities in 2018 successful and meaningful."

Turn-over Ceremony of EMB-MIMAROPA Regional Director

Let's explore the TAMWorld! A photo and art exhibit organized by Far Eastern University in celebration of Tamaraw Month this October.

Hataw Tamaraw!

Other Links

  • office-of-the-president

  •   
  • official-gazette