The Environmental Management Bureauโ€“Region I (EMB-I) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) virtually convened the Governing Board, Executive Committee, Technical Working Group and Multi-Sectoral Group of the Lower Amburayan River Systemโ€“Water Quality Management Area (LARSโ€“WQMA) for the first quarter joint meeting on February 10, 2020 through video conferencing.

On behalf of the EMB-I Regional Director, Engr. Antonio L. Estrada, Chief of the Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement Division, presided over the meeting. Matters discussed in the meeting were the submission of Sangguniang Bayan (SB) Endorsed and Adopted LGU Compliance Plan, schedule of activities for 2021, simultaneous River Clean-up Drive, and the guidelines on the National Sustainable Sanitation Plan (NSSP) of the National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP).

Based on the Water Quality Monitoring Data for 2020, the LARSโ€“WQMA met the DENR-Water Quality Guidelines for Class C water classification in its Physico-Chemical Parameters (Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Dissolved Oxygen (DO), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Color, potential of Hydrogen (pH), Nitrate, Phosphate and Chloride). The comparison of seven-year monitoring data from 2014-2020 for the parameters BOD, DO, TSS, pH and Fecal Coliform and two-year monitoring data from 2019-2020 for the parameters Color, Temperature, Nitrate, Phosphate and Chloride were presented which showed that there are improvements in the water quality of all monitoring stations but still recorded exceedances for the Bacteriological Parameter (Fecal Coliform).

The National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP) was discussed by Engr. Lily Neremiapel D. Esteban from the Department of Health (DOH) Region 1. NSSMP is integrated in the National Sustainable Sanitation Plan (NSSP) formulated by the Action Research Pilot Project which focuses on the critical Public Health and Environment Problems that needs be addressed in a sustainable manner. The DOH is one of the Project Facilitators of the NSSMP Implementation. Engr Esteban added that there are no guidelines regarding the assistance on funding for 2nd Class to 6th Class Municipalities for the NSSMP. If the LGU has a Local Sustainable Sanitation Plan, the DOH may endorse it to the National Economic and Development Authority for possible funding.

Stakeholders of the LARSโ€“WQMA also presented their accomplishments. Mr. Francis Greg Buccat of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 1 presented their accomplishments which include the distribution of fish gears, distribution of fingerlings, and establishment of technodemo. Engr. Horace Hogan C. Frigillana of the Department of Public Works and Highways Region I mentioned that they have on-going flood control projects along the Amburayan River System. Forester Grace C. Libong reported that the Provincial Government of La Union (PGLU) continuously monitors the solid waste management of each LGU as well as quarrying operations in the province.

By virtue of DENR Administrative Oder No. 3 series of 2018, the Lower Amburayan River System was designated as Water Quality Management Area. LARSโ€“WQMA includes the Municipalities of Bangar, Santol, and Sudipen in the Province of La Union and the Municipalities of Alilem, Cervantes, Sigay, Sugpon, Suyo, and Tagudin, in the Province of Ilocos Sur.