The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) announced that the new general effluent standards (GES) under Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2016-08 will be fully implemented in the Laguna de Bay region starting next year.
Emiterio C. Hernandez, department manager of the LLDA’s Environmental Regulations Department, in a recent webinar said this means all renewals for discharge permits (DPs) within the Laguna de Bay Region starting calendar year 2022 “shall be issued with, and will be regulated for compliance to, the new GES.”
“For this year we will still respect the compliance action plan and the grace period provided as stated in your discharge permit, but once you renew you are now covered with the new general effluent standards,” said Hernandez.
The LLDA requires an enterprise to obtain a DP, renewable annually, to secure a legal authorization to discharge wastewater into the tributary rivers within the Laguna de Bay Region.
DAO 2016-08, or the Water Quality Guidelines (WQG) and General Effluent Standards of 2016, repeals the Rules and Regulations of the National Pollution Control Commission (1978), 1982 Effluent Regulations, and DENR Administrative Orders 1990-34 and 1997-23, and modifies DAO 1990-35.
The policy provides new guidelines for, among others, classifying water bodies in the country, evaluating whether water quality has improved or deteriorated, and assessing the need to take action against water pollution.
Key changes in the water quality guidelines compared to the previous ones center on reclassifying freshwater and marine waters, and re-categorizing of water quality parameters into primary and secondary. The WQG also now calls for monitoring of groundwater quality, previously not covered under DAO 1990-35.
Meanwhile, major updates in the general effluent standards cover scope and coverage. DAO 1990-35 had limited the scope to effluent standards applied to industrial manufacturing plants and municipal treatment plants discharging more than 30 cubic meters per day.
The GES, on the other hand, “applies to all point sources of pollution, regardless of volume, that discharge to receiving body of water or land,” essentially covering all establishments, big and small, that release effluents into water sources.
Hernandez in his presentation also referred to a memorandum issued by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau clarifying that there are no exemptions and that “all establishments must secure a Discharge Permit regardless of volume of wastewater.”
In view of this, Hernandez said LLDA through Board Resolution (BR) No. 565, series of 2019, has revoke previous exemptions and declared that all establishments in the Laguna de Bay Region, regardless of industry category, are now covered.
Thus, establishments in the region must all secure a DP, including companies interconnected to centralized treatment facilities because “they are still potential sources of any liquid wastes,” and because the DP is both for licensing and registration of pollution sources.
In addition, the LLDA board resolution declares that establishments connected to an existing sewerage system and/or wastewater treatment facility will only be required to pay the processing fee and will be exempted from paying the fixed and variable fee components of the Environmental User Fee (EUF).
Further, it is the owner of the wastewater treatment facility that must pay the EUF for the total volume of effluent discharges, including effluent from individual establishments connected to this facility.
Hernandez also explained that if all wastewater generation is being treated by a service provider/industrial park, the locators are no longer required to submit a compliance action plan, and no effluent sampling will be conducted by the LLDA.
On penalties for failure to comply with the general effluent standards, Hernandez said these are set at a minimum of P10,000 to a maximum of P200,000 per day with a 10% increase every two years.
He added that the LLDA has recently issued a memorandum circular adjusting the range of daily penalty to be imposed, which should not be less than P19,500 or more than P390,000 for every day of violation.
Additionally, under the old regulation, the reckoning period for imposing daily penalties is from the date the results of laboratory analysis of the wastewater samples collected was released from the Resource Management and Development Department of LLDA.
For oil spillage or accidental discharges of petrochemicals and other chemicals, the reckoning period is from the date the wastewater samples were taken.
Under the new policy, the reckoning period “shall commence from the date of collection of wastewater sample until full cessation of pollutive discharge regardless of kind of pollutant.”