DENR-EMB issues clarification on DAO 2016-08 on grant of 5-year grace period

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has made updates to DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2016-08 that business establishments should become aware of, according to an environment official.

Leza Acorda-Cuevas, supervising specialist of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), announced in a recent forum that DENR-EMB has issued Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2019-001 which sets additional parameters for DAO 2016-08, or the “Water Quality Guidelines and General Effluent Standards of 2016.”

MC 2019-001 was issued in January of this year and provides supplementary clarification on the coverage of DAO 2016-08, specifically on Section 10 of the order. This section pertains to the granting of not more than five years’ grace period on the steps taken for an establishment’s compliance schedule within the prescribed grace period.

Acorda-Cuevas said that under the new MC, the grace period of not more than five years only applies under two conditions.

The MC states that pursuant to Section 3 of DAO No. 2016-08, the general effluent standards (GES) shall apply to all points of sources of pollution, regardless of volume, that discharge to receiving body of water or land and shall be used regardless of the industry category.

MC 2019-001 further states: “Section 10 of DAO 2016-08 provides a grace period of not more than five (5) years, provided that the establishment submits Compliance Action Plan (CAP) and periodic status of implementation to the DENR on the steps taken for the establishment’s compliance schedule within the prescribed period.”

According to MC 2019-001, there are only two cases wherein the grace period may apply, said Acorda-Cuevas.

One is when “values for the GES have become stringent compared to the values in DAO 1990-35.” In such cases, says the MC, DAO 1990-35 shall apply during the grace period.

The other is when “new significant effluent quality parameters were identified for the sector.”

MC 2019-001 declares that the granting of grace period under these cases “shall only apply to wastewater treatment facilities already existing or undergoing actual construction as of the effectivity of DAO No. 2016-08 which is 15 June 2016.”

In view of the above, “concerned establishments must have a CAP approved by the concerned EMB Regional Office not later than 31 December 2019 and the grace period will be until 31 December 2022 only.”

“The grace period shall be limited to parameters wherein the values for the GES became stringent compared to the values in DAO 1990-35 and new significatn effluent quality parameters identified for the sector. Establishments shall submit their quarterly status of implementation and compliance verification shall be done by the EMB Regional Office,” the MC concludes.

The memorandum circular took effect immediately, said Acorda-Cuevas.

DAO 2016-08 is in compliance with Section 19e and 19f of Republic Act No. 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, which mandates the DENR to enforce, review and revise water quality guidelines, as well as review and set effluent standards.

The water quality guidelines were created to maintain and preserve the quality of water based on the intended beneficial use as well as to prevent and abate pollution. Meanwhile, the general effluent standards set legal restriction or limitation on quantities, rates, and concentrations of physical, chemical or biological parameters of effluent which an establishment is allowed to discharge into the environment.

Additionally, DAO 2016-08 says the establishment shall submit a compliance action plan and regular updates on the implementation of this plan to the DENR.

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