The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has classified 21 new water bodies for their best uses, including four rivers and lakes that have been identified as potential sources of potable water in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.
DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said that Lake Danao in Ormoc City, the upper reaches of Paypayan and Langaran rivers in Misamis Occidental, and Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur have been recently categorized as “Class A” or whose waters require complete treatment to meet the national standards for drinking water.
Paje said that besides these potential drinking water sources, 17 other fresh surface and marine waters were classified by the DENR through a memorandum circular issued pursuant to Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, bringing the total number of duly classified water bodies nationwide to 691.
The law mandates the DENR to categorize water bodies—whether freshwater or coastal—according to their quality, area, purpose and vulnerability to pollution.
Fresh surface waters, which include lakes, rivers and reservoirs, are classified as “AA,” “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D.” Coastal and marine waters, on the other hand, are classified as “SA,” “SB,” “SC,” and “SD.”
The environment chief said the classification helps water managers and planners to develop proper water quality management programs and provide the standards to protect aquatic life and human use of specific water bodies.
“With these classifications, we are able to determine the programs and activities to implement so that we can optimize the use of our water resources and make them beneficial to our welfare and health,” Paje said.
Also in DENR Memorandum Circular No. 2014-01, the waters of Bancal River in Zambales and the upper reach of Carigara River in Leyte were classified as “Class B” or safe for primary contact recreation or tourism purposes such as bathing, swimming and skin diving.
The Linao River in Cagayan; Lamunan/Hinay-an River System in Iloilo; Anilao River, Pagba–nganan River and lower reach of Carigara River, all in Leyte; and the lower reaches of Paypayan and Langaran Rivers; Kematu and Sefali Rivers in South Cotabato; and upper reach of Guiahao-an River in Agusan del Norte were categorized as “Class C” or safe for propagation of fish, recreation and post-treatment manufacturing processes.
The lower reach of Guiahao-an River was classified as “D” or may be sourced for agriculture and irrigation, or for limited use as industrial water supply.
As regards marine waters, the DENR has identified water bodies in the Visayas that fall under “Class SA” or those suitable for commercial propagation and harvesting of shellfishes, and cover national marine reserves and coral reef parks. These include the coastal waters of Barangays 3, Dalipe and Madraca in San Jose, Iloilo; and waters three kilometers beyond the Toledo-Balamban shoreline in Toledo City, Cebu.
Coastal waters that fall under “Class SB” or allowed for recreational activities like bathing, swimming and skin diving include those surrounding Maniwaya Island in Marinduque; Barangays 4, San Pedro, Mojon, Magcalon, San Fernando, Malaiba, Maybato Norte and Maybato Sur in San Jose, Iloilo; Albay Gulf in Albay and Sorsogon.