Published: Gibon, 2006
Authors: Emelina G. Regis and Fritzie Dela Cruz
Funded by: Ateneo de Naga University
The study on the environmental state of Lakes Bato and Baao, Camarines Sur was conducted in order to determine the causes of the environmental degradation of the lakes. Among the parameters assessed were the physico-chemical conditions of the lakes and the existing macroflora, macrofauna and phytoplankton. It also included the resource utilization by the various sectors of society, especially the poor residents along the coastal areas, and how this resource utilization had impacted the lakes’ ecosystems. Moreover, the study suggested appropriate management recommendations that could mitigate environmental problems already experienced in the lakes.
The findings of the study revealed that the lakes were in urgent need of proper management for their sustainable use. Nine environmental problems were identified, namely: 1) garbage accumulation, 2) unsustainable farming activities around the lakes, 3) siltation of the lake water resulting into shallow lakes, 4) flooding of areas surrounding the lake that had worsened over the years, 5) fish-kill during the summer month and declining fish catch, 6) proliferation of water hyacinth affecting navigation and releasing foul odor, 7) denuded watershed resulting in soil erosion and extensive run-off, 8) declining fish catch due to the proliferation of fish cages, loss of spawning areas and migration routes, and low water level, and 9) poverty affecting most of the lakeshore barangays.
To solve the environmental problems mentioned above, the following management recommendations were proposed: a) limit and regulate the number of fish cages, b) zone the lake area and designate a zone for each use in the lake, e.g. municipal fishing zone, fish cage zone, fish sanctuary zone, recreation, transportation route, among others, c) disallow dummy operators from working in the lake, d) set up a fish sanctuary and enforce the laws for its protection, e) restore the wetlands/riparian zone to act as buffer between the surrounding lake water and the ricefields, f) plant vegetation that have roots capable of filtering mud that comes from the ricefields, i.e. bamboo plant, g) prohibit the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides or use less toxic alternatives, h) prohibit the throwing of garbage directly into the lake, i) disallow wastewater coming from residential areas and commercial establishments from flowing directly into the lake by setting up a treatment facility if possible, j) encourage and support waste reduction, reusing, and recycling by putting up, for example, a Material Recovery Facility (MRF), k) look for an appropriate dumping site for waste that cannot be recycled anymore, l) plan a gradual dredging of the lake on a section-by-section basis to help reduce the flooding problem, m) regularly remove the water hyacinth from the lake water before it proliferates, n) restore the creeks and rivers that disappreared from Lake Baao in order to contain flood waters and control extensive flooding in the vicinity, o) look for appropriate and safe places for informal settlers along the lakeshore, p) set up a continuing environmental education program for the people regarding proper care of the lake, and q) conduc regular monitoring of the surroundings of the lake and prohibit activities that contribute to its further deterioration.