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WHAT WENT BEFORE: Boracay’s environmental issues

/ 07:00 AM February 13, 2018

ALGAL BLOOMS While residents say algal blooms naturally occur every summer in Boracay, researchers link their presence to human waste coming from nearby establishments. —JILSON SECKLER TIU

Coliform bacteria scare and other environmental issues have hounded Boracay in Aklan province over the past 20 years

In 1997, tourist arrivals on the island dropped 60 percent due to the increase in coliform bacteria that was blamed on inadequate septic and sewerage systems.

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As a result, Boracay installed a potable water supply system, a sewage treatment plant and a solid waste disposal system run by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).

Seven years later, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported that the coliform crisis persisted as not all businesses operated with an environmental compliance certificate from the government.

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Then, only 51 percent of hotels and restaurants and only 25 percent of households had installed pipelines connecting to the centralized sewage treatment plant that began operating in 2003.

In 2005, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared Boracay a special tourism zone.

In April 2006, Arroyo gave the PTA administrative control over Boracay, to be exercised in coordination with the provincial government.

In 2009, after waters off Boracay were contaminated with fecal coliform from  human waste, Boracay Island Water Co. (BIWC) won the contract for the project to improve the supply of potable water and install an efficient sewerage system.

BIWC is 80-percent owned by Manila Water Co. and 20 percent by the PTA.

In 2011, a study conducted by McKeough Marine Center based at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, said coral reefs in Boracay had reached an alarming state of deterioration.

In February 2015, excessive algae growth caused by sewage being directly dumped into the waters began to appear.

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Source: Inquirer Archives

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