Water utility firm Boracay Tubi System Inc. (BTSI) has assured there is no direct discharge of untreated wastewater into open sea and that it is operating a complete waterworks system with septage management.
In a statement, BTSI said its joint water sampling conducted with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in its interceptor and water outfall located in Sitio Lugotan, Boracay Island shows “full compliance” with the agency’s effluent standards.
“Since it was informed of a video showing yellowish liquid flowing out of its submerged pipe 1 kilometer away from the island’s shoreline, the company immediately coordinated with the local DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB),” it said.
“In less than 48 hours, BTSI conducted joint sampling with the DENR-EMB at both its interceptor and outfall which showed compliance to effluent standards,” the company added.
The BTSI said it takes the incident seriously “and wish to reassure the public that there is no direct discharging of untreated wastewater into the open sea.”
“All wastewater is being treated on-site at the individual Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) of establishments it serves,” it said.
The firm said it encourages recycling of treated wastewater for irrigation and toilet flushing purposes and any excess goes to its interceptor as a safeguard.
“The individual STPs and interceptor are constantly monitored in-house, by the DENR-EMB, and by third-party laboratory testing firms for compliance to the latest DENR standards. In fact, BTSI is one of the very few providers in the Philippines and the first provider in Boracay Island to comply with the stringent DENR 2016-08 Effluent Standards for treated wastewater discharge” it noted.
“We are investigating possible illegal tapping and intrusion into the pipeline leading to the outfall.”
BTSI added that it is currently investigating possible illegal tapping and intrusion into the pipeline leading to the outfall as it traverses a distance of 1 kilometer towards the shoreline and an additional 1 kilometer from the shoreline to the outfall.
“Nevertheless, necessary measures have already been put in place to prevent future recurrence. We also welcome the investigation being conducted by DENR on the matter,” the firm said.
In a recent Senate hearing on the DENR’s proposed P25.5 billion budget for 2020, Secretary Roy Cimatu reported the discharge now coming out of the BTSI outfall has met standards as the fecal coliform level was down to one most probable number per 100 milliliters (1 mpn/100ml), several days after the DENR ordered the water utility company to address the issue.
Initial testing by the DENR found that the outfall discharge had a fecal coliform level as high as 3,500 mpn/100ml when the effluent standard was 400 mpn/100ml.
“On September 19, we issued a cease and desist order and on September 21, they stopped their operation.”
Cimatu said the viral video (on the outfall) came out on September 11.
“We took notice of it. That time, the coliform reached 3,500. On September 19, we issued a cease and desist order (against BTSI), and on September 21, they stopped their operation. We gave them instructions to clean up or correct. September 23, kumuha uli ng sample at 1mpn na lang, so compliant na sila (they took again a sample just at 1mpn, so they are already compliant),” the environment chief said.
BTSI said it remains steadfast in its commitment “to provide reliable service to our customers and work towards the sustainability of the island of Boracay.”
The company has been operating in Boracay for 20 years. Aside from its treated wastewater recycling program, it also supports the island’s rehabilitation projects, adoption of the biggest wetland in Boracay, planting of 2,500 mangroves in Sitio Lugotan, and sponsoring of the designation of the island as a Water Quality Management Area, among others.