DENR: Waters on Boracay island now safe and clean

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — The environment department on Friday declared the waters on Boracay island safe and clean.

At the House hearing in Boracay, Task Force Boracay chair and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu announced that coliform levels at the white beach front and the east side of the island are now far below the 400mpn (Most Probable Number) per 100 millimeters maximum tolerable level.

Recent tests show no more than 20 mpn per 100 millimeters. Cimatu said from as high as 1-million MPN, the coliform level at the east side of the island is now at 19-20mpn per 100mm.

The high coliform level at the east side of Boracay was the reason the president called the tourism island a cesspool in February.

Task Force Boracay said only fully-compliant resorts and hotels will be allowed to operate once the island reopens next month. As of today, only 25 firms have complied with all the requirements of the environment, interior and tourism departments.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat told the House Committee on Natural Resources that the president wants 100-percent compliance of the requirements before an establishment is allowed to operate.

Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said there are now 225 firms out of more than 4,000 establishments on the island that have completed their permits and licenses from the local government.

However, the firms still have to comply with environmental requirements like the mandatory construction of Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) for accommodation establishments that have 50 and above number of rooms.

The tourism department also requires the establishments to be accredited as a tourism facility before it could operate.

The 25 resorts and hotels that are so far fully-compliant will provide the 1,000 rooms needed during the dry run of the island on October 15 to 25. Only residents from Aklan will be allowed to visit Boracay during the dry run.

Cimatu said the dry run will determine how the sewage system works when tourists start to use the resort facilities.

When it reopens on October 26, the government will also limit the number of tourists visiting the island to only 6,405 a day.

This is because the carrying capacity of the island limits the number of tourists to 19,215 per day. The computation is based on the assumption that a tourist stays for an average of three days on the island.

On the road construction, members of the house committee expressed doubts the roads will be ready by October 26. The congressmen were inspecting the ongoing pavement of roads yesterday and observed the project was far from completion. However, Cimatu assures the congressmen that the public works department is working double time to finish the road pavement by October 15. Cimatu explained the road projects were delayed by heavy rains the past weeks.

The task force will also put up 16 designated stops for passenger tricycles along the main road to ease traffic.

These will be located near establishments.

The present tricycles-for-hire using petrols will soon be replaced with electric trikes. Companies using delivery as well as tourist vans, will have to upgrade their vehicles and be Euro-4 compliant.

The task force wants the main road to be walkable by people. In fact, the main road has been widened from eight to 12 meters and includes provisions for pedestrian and bicycle lanes.

Cimatu also told the house committee that some 31 families of the Tomandok tribe will be relocated to 7.5 hectares of resettlement site in barangay Manoc-Manoc. The Tomandoks are presently staying in a wetland.