Boracay is a small island in the Philippines famous for its beautiful landscape and beaches with powder-white fine sand and crystal clear water. The mass tourism over the years has taken its toll and severely polluted its waters and coast. The government understood the consequences of unsustainable tourism and decided in April 2018 to overhaul the environmental system to combat the impact mass tourism has brought to the seawater.
The Philippine government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), implemented several measures to reform the island. Closing it for 6 months, the government began clean-up and implemented strict regulations for sustainable water and responsible tourism. And one of the most critical steps is the removal of the chlorination process used to treat Boracay’s wastewater.
Boracay Island Water Corp. (BIWC), operator of the island’s wastewater treatment plant, applied chlorination process to disinfect treated wastewater before it was discharged into the sea. However, there was residual chlorine in the effluent, which negatively impacted the marine environment.
The DENR mandated BIWC to regulate discharge of residual chlorine and consequently, the chemical by-products in the treated effluent. At first, BIWC added dechlorination process prior to releasing effluent to the sea to comply but soon realized it wasn’t a sustainable solution. Chlorination and dechlorination treatment processes require chemical handling and transport to the island, which is logistically challenging. After careful exploration and consultation with Xylem, BIWC decided to apply UV irradiation for disinfection in their wastewater treatment plant.
Xylem Wedeco UV system LBX850e, a closed vessel pressured system that disinfects around 270m3 of water per hour, was installed to replace chlorination and dechlorination processes in the treatment plant. It is the first UV system installed in Boracay Island and the first technology they had explored that had immediate positive effects in their water effluent quality.
Since its installation, BIWC has achieved (and surpassed) its target disinfection of total fecal coliform. The UV system showed good water disinfection performance and has alleviated the logistical challenges brought by the former process. It is also easier to operate and maintain, and far less complicated compared to the chlorination and dechlorination processes.
BIWC achieved their disinfection target, and gained OPEX benefits by reducing costs after the elimination of chemical processes. Moreover based on their daily monitoring, there are no spikes or increase in power consumption.
“We are truly happy to have replaced the chlorination process with UV irradiation treatment. Xylem’s solution helped us achieve our target disinfection and reduce our operational cost due to the elimination of chemical transportation and the very low energy consumption. Most importantly, Boracay Island Water Corp. now provides the people of Boracay a very sustainable way of wastewater effluent discharge, without any negative effects on the sea environment.”
Jacquelyn Maquirang, Used Water Operations Manager
Boracay Island Water Corp. / Manila Water