Bicol River Stakeholders’ Summit

The Provincial Government of Camarines Sur, through the Environment, Disaster Management, and Emergency Response Office (EDMERO) and in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau 5 (DENR-EMB V), conducted the Bicol River Stakeholders’ Summit on 26-27 June 2019 as part of the Environment Month celebration.

The summit was held in three municipalities, namely Cabusao, Milaor, and Bula, where some of the stations for water quality monitoring are. The status of water quality, as a result of last year’s monitoring in the said municipalities was presented.

As the lead agency, the DENR-EMB V classify or reclassify all waterbodies according to their beneficial usage. Just last year, the water quality monitoring program has started. In the Bicol region, a total number of 64 waterbodies has been classified, wherein 17 of them are in Camarines Sur.

The program aims to improve the water quality of the waterbodies, especially the Bicol River, from its present classification to assure the suitability of water for its designated use or classification and to undertake a survey of sources of pollution to ensure compliance with Effluent Standards.

Waterbodies are being monitored using different parameters, namely temperature, pH (Range), dissolved oxygen, total suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand, oil and grease, Copper, Cadmium, Zinc, Lead, Phosphate, Nitrate, and Mercury.

After presenting the water quality in each station, the participants determined the problems and issues concerning the quality of the waterbodies. Considering their inputs in this discussing, they then created an action plan to address the identified issues. Among their common problems are discharge from backyard piggeries, discharge from bottomless septic tanks, discharge from nearby industries, and improper disposal of wastes.

Based on the action plan, strategies identified by the participants are the creation of barangay ordinance on proper waste disposal, strict enforcement of different environmental compliances, tributaries/creeks profiling, monitoring, and survey, creation of a program on alternative livestock systems, installation of septic tanks, among others. The DENR-EMB 5 urged everyone to facilitate the implementation of such action plans in their respective areas.

Other programs of the DENR-EMB 5 with regard to the protection and conservation of waterbodies include Sagip-Ilog Program, Recreational Waters Monitoring Program, Adopt-an-Estero/Waterbody Program, Water Quality Management Area (WQMA), and Industrial Ecowatch Program.