BATO, Camarines Sur, Mar. 5 (PNA) -- Bato Mayor Jeanette R. Bernaldez on Wednesday said development projects have poured in and hundreds of millions pesos have already been spent to conserve Lake Bato, the seventh largest lake in the country.
Bernaldez said all the projects for Lake Bato conservation were solicited from the provincial government and the office of Camarines Sur Fifth District Rep. Salvio Fortuno.
She told the PNA that the projects included the dredging of the lake worth P60 million, an ongoing flood control structure project that already costs P150 million and another P50 million to extend the construction.
Bernaldez expressed gratitude to Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte and former Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte for giving the town an oxidation pond where all waste water from domestic sources are processed first to remove pollutants before being dumped into the lake.
She said 70-80 percent of the town’s 50,000 population are dependent on Lake Bato for their livelihood and the conservation projects would greatly benefit the fisherfolk.
Bernaldez said there are 16 villages in Bato town in Camarines Sur and three villages in Libon, Albay, that surround the lake with a surface area of 2,810 hectares.
She said the smallest commercially-harvested fish "sinarapan" (Mistichthys luzonensis), found in Lake Buhi, is also found in Lake Bato.
Engineer Gilbert Gonzales, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional executive director, said Lake Bato is part of the Rinconada Lake System which includes Lake Buhi and Lake Baao.
Rinconada is Camarines Sur’s fifth district composed of Iriga City and the towns of Bato, Baao, Balatan, Buhi and Nabua.
Gonzales said the DENR monitors the water quality of Lake Bato and the latest finding is that it is classified as B where the water is still safe for swimming or can be used for recreational purposes.
He said class A water can be drunk with proper treatment while class C water could still be used domestically and class C water for irrigation purposes only.
Gonzales said there are some 20,000 fish cages installed inside Lake Bato and that there is a need to study its carrying capacity to avoid environmental degradation.
Bernaldez claimed that a study on Lake Bato showed that if the lake will not be rehabilitated it will die within 20 years period.
She said one of her priority programs is the rehabilitation of Lake Bato, which includes the ongoing dredging, continuous clean-up drive and implementation of solid waste management program. (PNA) CTB/FGS/JE/CBD/UTB