BACOLOD CITY: The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) is investigating reports of a fishkill in rivers of Pontevedra, Negros Occidental affecting three barangay (villages).
Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya, CENRO chief, said they sent a team to validate the reports received by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Office on Wednesday that the fishkill has initially affected upstream portions of Barangay San Juan as shown by dead tilapia floating in the river.
Pontevedra Mayor Jose Benito Alonso said the fishkill spread to portions of rivers in Barangay 1 and 2.
River waters in the area have discolored and the number of dead fish has increased, the mayor said.
“We already submitted the report [on the fishkill]to DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau that caters to water pollution concerns,” Gerangaya said.
The DENR, along with the local government of Pontevedra, took water samples for laboratory testing.
Pending the result, environment officials suspect that the discoloration of water was caused by wastewater of bio-ethanol plant Roxol Bionergy Corp. (RBC) located at neighboring Barangay Nagasi in La Carlota City.
Gerangaya said “there is no other cause of water contamination in the area, only the plant’s wastewater flowing into the river.”
Production of other marine products like crabs and shells has also been affected by the recurring water pollution, he added.
“Since 2015, the plant’s wastewater has been discharged into the river particularly when the substance in its treatment facility overflows,” Gerangaya said, adding that there were prior arrangements with the local government on payment for the damages.
Alonso said they are awaiting the result of the laboratory test to validate whether the fishkill is actually caused by RBC’s wastewater.
He, however, admitted that the river in La Carlota City is directly connected to the river in Pontevedra.
“Some fisherfolk have been complaining against the water discoloration, which may adversely affect their ponds,” Alonso said.
In September last year, the La Carlota city government issued a 30-day suspension against RBC, a bio-ethanol subsidiary of Roxas Holdings Inc., after its plant emitted foul odor that spread to eight villages.
A cease-and-desist order was then issued that was later lifted after the problem was addressed.
But RBC’s operations remained suspended to give way to the maintenance repairs of its plant.
It resumed operations in October last year.