THE Municipal Government of Pontevedra has formed a team that will monitor activities that may cause pollution to its rivers following the recent fishkill which affected three barangays in the southern Negros Occidental town.
The creation of the monitoring team came after the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) released Tuesday the results of the water sample analysis conducted by a private laboratory in Bacolod City last week.
Sophie Manuel, regional director of EMB-Negros Island Region (NIR), said test results showed that all parameters taken are within the standards based on the Revised Water Quality Guidelines and Influence Standards of 2016, provided under Department Administrative Order 2016-08.
“In our level, this is not yet a confirmatory test thus, we cannot yet ascertain that there is pollution on the bodies of water where samples were taken,” Manuel said.
Also, the EMB cannot pinpoint whether the fishkill was really caused by alleged water pollutants coming from wastewater of an ethanol plant operated by Roxol Bioenergy Corp. (RBC) in neighboring La Carlota City.
“Through our regular monitoring, we have to consider also the possible effects of climate change before pointing the problem to whoever," she added.
Earlier, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in Bago City, which covers areas from E.B. Magalona to Pontevedra, had attributed the water contamination to the plant.
RBC then asserted that the company’s ethanol plant in Barangay Nagasi has not caused the fishkill as it has instituted long-term plans and programs to comply with environmental laws.
Mayor Jose Benito Alonso said he is not saying that the fishkill was caused by Roxol, or of sugar mill Central Azucarera de La Carlota Inc., also operating in La Carlota City.
“But history would tell us that the town has already been experiencing foul odor and I don’t see any other possible cause of it,” Alonso said.
Despite the “tolerable level” results of the water tests, the mayor said the monitoring team will specifically position at the riverbanks where pipes of the two plants are situated.
The local government is establishing two structures, and will assign personnel who will do the 24-hour monitoring in the concerned areas starting today.
Every time there will be discharges of anything on these portions of the river, the team will properly document it through photos and videos, among others, the mayor said.
“By then, there will be no further discussions, the municipality will take necessary measures. We will immediately get samples of the water where a discharge of any substance was done and have it tested,” Alonso said.
The fishkill was first reported on February 22, but water samples were taken three days after thus, it might have something to do with the result of the test, he added.