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Manila Bay still a cesspool

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The numbers are out and, while they are encouraging, they affirmed the warning of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that Manila Bay’s waters are still unsafe for swimming due to high coliform bacteria count.

“Bathing in Manila Bay can expose people to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria which could increase their chances of developing illnesses. Government has not yet given the all-clear signal for swimming,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The DENR yesterday started putting signage along the bay’s shoreline echoing the warning of Cimatu and the Department of Health that people risk contracting diseases from getting in contact with the bay’s polluted waters.

Before the clean-up was started on 27 January, the DENR announced coliform level of about 330 million mpn (most probable number) per 100 milliliter (ml), 3.3 million percent over the “safe for swimming” standard.

Tests on 28 January registered coliform levels measuring as much as 35 million mpn/100ml at the Rajah Soliman outfall or Station 5.

In comparison, Boracay Island’s waters tested at 900 mpn/100ml in April 2018 when it was called by President Rodrigo Duterte a “cesspool” and closed for a six-month rehabilitation.
When Boracay opened in October after the clean-up, its waters tested at 8mpn/100ml, well within the 100mpn/100ml “safe level.”

In all, the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) set up eight water quality monitoring stations along Roxas Boulevard, between the United States Embassy and the Manila Yacht Club.

The latest samples bore substantial drops in bacterial count but are still too high for any contact with humans.

The test results were as follows: Padre Faura (Station 2), 7.9 million MPN/100ml; Station 1 beside the US Embassy, 3,100; Station 3 in front of Diamond Hotel, 7,900; Station 4 at Carpel Shell Export and Museum, 2,400; Station 6 in front of Metrobank near Grand Hotel, 2,400; Station 7 in front of Admiral Hotel, 3,300, and Station 8 across the Quirino Avenue stoplight, 13,000.

With Pat C. Santos

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