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The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has urged local government units (LGUs) not to issue business permits to establishments that do not have a sewage treatment plant (STP) or septic tank that is compliant with environmental laws and policies.

“Let us learn from the lessons of Manila Bay which became a ‘gigantic septic tank’ and Boracay which was described as ‘a virtual cesspool’. Local governments should already put their foot down by not issuing business permits to non-compliant establishments,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año in a press release.

He added that no new business permits should be issued unless the owners have obtained necessary environmental clearances and permits such as discharge permits and environmental sanitation certificates from Department of Health (DOH)s and Laguna Lake Development Authority.

Last April 22, the DILG issued memorandum circular 2019-62 which orders LGUs to ensure all residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and governmental establishments within their areas have proper sewage treatment and septage management system.

According to the memorandum circular, all governmental and institutional buildings that have 212 occupants or less should have a septic tank otherwise they are required to have a wastewater treatment facility either on-site or by service off-site. Septic tanks must also be accessible at all times and no wastewater is discharged to waterways without proper treatment.

For establishments that have inaccessible or non-compliant septic tanks, they could opt to remodel the unit to make it compliant with national standards; connect to existing sewer lines; or build a shared septic tank. But DILG said that septic tanks should be desludged every five years or if it is already full with sludge by a water utility or private desludging company accredited by the DOH and/or Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau.

Additionally, the DILG advised LGUs to establish their own sewerage and septage management system through enactment of an ordinance. The ordinance should include provisions on giving sanctions to erring owners and users of buildings without proper sanitation facilities as well as giving incentives to resident and commercial establishments that complied to the order.

The DENR last week issued a separate memorandum circular that requires all establishments within Manila Bay area to build their own STP or connect to existing sewer lines to ensure that the wastewater they generate is properly collected and treated.