The FCD first explored Lake Carolina last June 20-21, 2019 and was deeply impressed by its natural beauty and its challenging underwater cave system. Unfortunately, this majestic site is under serious threat.
To understand the situation:
- There are 2 property owners with claims to the use of the Lake Carolina.
- The property closest to the spring opening and the area bordering the eastern portion of the pool is overseen by the heirs of Mr. Felix Balanay. The property is currently being managed by his relative, Mrs. Wilma Monday.
- At the downstream portion of Lake Carolina, the land owner is Mr. Josepito Cartagena.
- The Balanay property does not have any commercial developments in place.
- The Cartagena property has cottages for rent and charges an entry fee for the passage to access Lake Carolina.
As understood from a recent telephone conversation with the caretaker of the Balanay property Mrs. Wilma Monday, Lake Carolina is currently facing serious issues:
- The Cartagena land ownership allegedly has grand plans for the development of the property, of which includes a hotel.
- The Cartagena property has a road leading to it being built by DPWH using funds from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act. There is no signage that shows the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of the project being displayed at the construction site.
- An independent site developer consulted by Mrs. Monday inspected the DPWH construction and found a drainage system directed into a stream that connects to the pool of Lake Carolina.
- The Cartagena property workers slashed & burnt foliage within the 15 meter buffer zone of the spring, raising the risk of erosion. Their reason (as written in Mrs. Monday’s letter of complaint to the DENR) was so that the area’s guests won’t be bitten by snakes hiding in the bushes.
We need action from DENR, DOT and particulary from the Local Government Unit of Baganga to stem any environmentally detrimental developments on the site and to maintain the natural beauty of Lake Carolina.
The FCD’s initial assessment of the area confirms that the Lake Carolina is more than just a spring or a pool. It is a watershed and an aquifer.
Additionally, the spring is influenced by the tides which means that the seawater moves inwards during high tide. Any alteration of the natural flow of the downstream environment may affect the spring system.
We need to gather more data of Lake Carolina’s underground features, its carrying capacity and establish management protocols before rampant commercialization and the unsustainable development of the site will, so to speak “kill the goose that lays the golden egg”.
As of September 14, 2019 the DENR-EMB has issued a Certificate of Non-Coverage to the DPWH for the road project.