THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), via its Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) unit, has issued cease and desist orders to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the Philippine Navy for releasing wastewater into Manila Bay.

According to documents provided by DENR Undersecretary Jonas R. Leones, the DPWH, CCP and Philippine Navy failed to meet the department’s effluent standards following water inspections in various outlets to the bay managed by the three agencies.

The failures were described as non-compliance with the standard for Class SB water, in terms of total suspended solids, and biochemical oxygen demand, among others. Class SB water is deemed suitable for bathing, swimming, skin diving, and other forms of contact recreation.

Water discharges by the three institutions were higher than the standard 200 most probable number (MPN) of contaminants per 100 mL, with some exceeding 160,000 MPN/100 mL.

“The discharged wastewater coming from the respondent(s)… is an immediate threat to life, public health, safety and welfare to animals and plant life,” the LLDA said.

The orders were in effect immediately and will remain until the institutions are compliant, or until a temporary stay is issued. The DPWH, CCP and Navy are required to pay fines and other penalties for the violations, the DENR said.

The orders were signed by LLDA General Manager Jaime C. Medina.

On Tuesday, the CCP said that it does not object to the halting of its wastewater discharge.

“(We are) still awaiting the completion of the CCP’s Sewage Treatment Plant, which was delayed due to the current pandemic. It is targeted to begin operations by July 2021,” the CCP said in a issued by its corporate communications division.

It added that it has ramped up the siphoning and hauling of generated sewage, and has asked water concessionaire Maynilad to help in draining the center’s septic tanks.

BusinessWorld asked the DPWH and the Navy for comment, but they had not replied at the deadline. — Angelica Y. Yang