By Chito Chavez, April 29 2019; Manila Bulletin

Image Credit to Manila Bulletin

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo M. Año directed local government units (LGUs) not to issue business permits to firms without septic tank system (STS). This would prevent further degradation of our waterways similar to what happened to Manila Bay and its tributaries.

He also reminded that the design of the hygienic septic tank or wastewater treatment facility should conform to existing environmental laws and policies.

f Manila Bay which became a ‘gigantic septic tank’ and Boracay which was described as ‘a virtual cesspool’.  Local governments should already put their foot down by not issuing business permits to non-compliant establishments,” Año said.

He stressed that “no new business permit should be issued unless business owners have obtained the necessary environmental clearances and permits such as discharge permits and environmental sanitation certificates prescribed by laws or required by the Department of Health, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Department of Health and its instrumentalities.”

In memorandum circular 2019-62, the DILG Secretary said LGUs should ensure that all residential, private, and public establishments in their areas have proper sewage treatment and septage management system.

“Local governments should compel all residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and government establishments in their jurisdiction to have their own hygienic septic tanks or wastewater treatment facility,” he added.

LGUs, he said must see to it that all septic tanks are accessible and that no wastewater shall be discharged to waterways without any proper treatment.

Regular desludging

For establishments with inaccessible or non-compliant septic tanks, the DILG may opt to remodel or restructure and connect these to existing sewer lines of water utilities, or construct communal or shared septic tank.

Food establishments discharging wastes are also encouraged to have a working and properly maintained oil and grease strap installed in their respective areas.

In the same directive, Año stressed the importance of having  regular desludging of septic tanks at least once every five years to be performed only by the water utility or a private desludging company accredited by the DOH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the help of barangay officials.

LGUs, he added should map out programs and implement actions through the Enactment of Sewage Treatment and Septage Management Ordinance (SSM0) to support the drive.

The said ordinance must include sanction provisions to erring owners and users of establishments and structures without proper sanitation facilities, as well as provide award incentives to those which have complied with the directive.

As the Manila Bay rehabilitation efforts kicked off early this year, the DENR said “several establishments were tagged negligent and eventually faced closures for discharging untreated wastewater in Manila Bay, posting potential threats to the environment.”