Manila Bay swimmable in 7 years

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Long, long wait It may take seven years of cleaning up before Manila Bay becomes safe for swimming.           YUMMIE DINGDING

Picture yourself swimming in Manila Bay minus the stink and with the water palpably cleaner. Now, reset your timetable for that to — hold your breath — seven years from now.

Maybe, just maybe — Antiporda

“Within six months to one year, we will feel a drastic change here (Manila Bay) in our water quality,” Undersecretary Benny Antiporda of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said yesterday.

Antiporda warned though that it may still take up to seven years Manila Bay’s waters to be swimmable.

Still, swimming and other water sports activities being allowed in Manila Bay would actually depend on the results of water tests. The magic number is 100 mpn (most probable number) coliform bacteria per 100 milliliter (ml) or below.

Before the clean-up started on 27 January, the coliform levels at the bay ranged from 330 mpn/100ml to 1.3 billion mpn/100mpn.

Tons and truckloads of trash have already been collected from the bay and the areas around it.

Recent reports from DENR stated that the fecal coliform content of water samples from the areas around Manila Bay has been consistently dropping.

The fecal coliform content in the Ermita area has gone down to 7.9 million mpn from the previous 330 million mpn.

Fecal content in the Remedios area, likewise, decreased to 65 million mpn from 160 mpn, while that at the Manila Yacht Club was at 52 million mpn, down from 1.3 billion mpn.

“The rehabilitation of the whole Manila Bay and its tributaries meanwhile may take up to 20 years,” Antiporda said.

“This will require not just the removal of trash but a crackdown on fish pens, dumpsites and ships that contribute to the bay’s pollution,” he added.

A six-month rehabilitation program had brought down the coliform level in the waters of Boracay Island in Aklan from 900 mpn/100ml to as low as 8 mpn/100ml.

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