MANILA - The level of fecal coliform in the waters of Manila Bay have further decreased, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources insisted Thursday, days after a government official said otherwise.
Tests carried out on Feb. 8 from 21 stations surrounding Manila Bay registered a fecal coliform count of 4.87 million most probable number (mpn) per 100 milliliters, the agency said. This was a decrease from last year's average of 7.16 million mpn/100ml, it added.
Fecal coliform are bacteria associated with fecal material from humans and other animals. They enter bodies of water from sources such as direct defecation or sewage overflow.
In the waters near the beach nourishment project, DENR said the level of fecal coliform had dropped to 523,000 mpn/100ml from 2.2 million mpn/100ml recorded on Jan. 4. The data is based on the average count from 3 monitoring stations.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the agency is working to further lower the fecal coliform count in Manila Bay to Class SB to make it safer for recreational activities and fishing.
"We will make sure that we continue to clean the waters of Manila Bay until it becomes safe again for contact activities," he said in a statement Thursday.
Class SB level classifies coastal and marine waters as safe for regular use by the public for activities such as bathing, and swimming, and as spawning areas for bangus and other similar species of fish.
The standard coliform level for coastal waters, which is safe for recreational activities, is at only 100 mpn/100ml. The coliform level in Manila Bay had reached as much as 330 million mpn/100ml, which is 3.3 million times above the standard.
Cimatu said additional water quality monitoring stations had been installed along the Manila Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard to monitor the fecal coliform level of the waters within the major outfalls.
The DENR chief also said the sewage treatment plant constructed along the Manila Yacht Club has sustained its operation, which contributed to the decrease of fecal coliform in the outfall that drains into the Manila Bay.
The agency started rehabilitating Manila Bay in 2019, months after Boracay Island underwent a 6-month rehabilitation.
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