Gwen to Cordova’s cottage owners: Cease operations by August 29

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CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has ordered operators of Cordova’s floating and fixed cottages to temporarily stop their operations by Aug. 29, 2022.

Garcia made the announcement after Cordova’s concerned stakeholders and representatives of government agencies agreed on the temporary stoppage during a meeting in the town on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 17.

Garcia said they agreed to this in order to facilitate the rehabilitation of Cordova’s coast that was found to have been heavily affected by pollution allegedly caused by the unregulated establishment of cottages on and along the coast.

During the stakeholders’ meeting held at the Cordova Gym in Barangay Poblacion, officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR 7) said a second water quality check in Cordova’s coastal waters revealed that the fecal coliform level (FCL) along areas where fixed and floating cottages were present had reached 2,400 most probable number (mpn) per 100 milliliters.

The standard FCL for coastal waters to consider them safe for swimming and other similar recreational activities is 100 mpn per 100 milliliters, according to the DENR.

The FCL found during the DENR 7’s second water quality check on Aug. 10 was close to twice the amount found during their first water quality check in July this year, which was 1,300 mpn per 100 milliliters.

During the forum, Cordova Mayor Cesar “Didoy” Suan said Cordova’s coastal waters were no longer suitable for swimming even after the first water quality check conducted by the DENR.

Garcia said the DENR 7’s findings were alarming.

“This is already getting to be an environmental disaster,” Garcia added.

Due to the findings of the DENR 7, Garcia said she is set to issue a new executive order for the temporary suspension of operations of fixed and floating cottages in the town. She urged operators to strictly follow the order.

She added that aside from the fixed and floating cottages in the town, the temporary public market in Barangay Catarman was among the three contributors to the high FCL found along Cordova’s coast.

The governor, however, said she could not yet announce how long the rehabilitation would take, as they aim to make the town’s coast a “world-class” tourism destination.

Can operate until Aug. 28

Garcia said fixed and floating cottage operators can still operate until 12:01 a.m. of Aug. 29.

She added that cottage owners can still visit their cottages amid the closure of operations under certain circumstances such as when natural disasters like typhoons devastate the area.

But Garcia said operators will be accompanied by local police to prevent them from rebuilding their structures.

During the forum, Suan said they plan to prohibit the construction of fixed cottages along his town’s coast or within easement zones once the rehabilitation process begins.

Fixed cottages that were constructed before the rehabilitation process will be converted into floating cottages, but they will now be outfitted with toilets and washroom areas to prevent environmental degradation, Suan said.

Other measures

As to the town’s temporary public market, Suan said he is set to transfer its vendors to a brand-new market facility at least six months from now.

To prevent further contamination of the town’s coast, Suan said they will implement proper solid and liquid waste management at the temporary public market and in Barangays Catarman and Poblacion.

Suan added that they also plan to conduct regular water sampling in their coastal areas to ensure that the water quality meets the prescribed standards and parameters.