DENR says Boracay White Beach waters clean, coliform level down nearly 100 pct

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2018 06:00 PM

The scene on White Beach on Boracay Island, October 24, 2018, two days before it reopens to tourists. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

BORACAY ISLAND - Waters along the White Beach here is now clean as its coliform level has dropped by almost 100 percent, environment officials said Wednesday, two days before the famed beach destination was set to reopen its shores to tourists.

The level of coliform, or bacteria from feces, in the front beach is now at 8.1 mpn (most probable number) from nearly 900 mpn in April, before the island’s 6-month rehabilitation closure, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda told ABS-CBN News.

The standard water quality for swimming is 400 mpn.

Puka Beach, located on the northern part of Boracay, also has an 8-mpn coliform level.

Antiporda even suggested that the water was so clean it was potable, but a fellow official pointed out that saltwater should not be consumed. 

“Yung 8 (mpn) puwede na inumin 'yun, sobrang baba na ng coliform level na 'yun,” Antiporda said.

(At 8 mpn, that water is drinkable, that coliform level is already very low.)

“Nawala 'yung discharge, nawala 'yung nagswi-swimming, nakapagpahinga 'yung dagat. Nagkaroon siya ng pagkakataon na maagos 'yung dumi naturally,” he said.

(There was no longer any [sewage] discharge, there was no one swimming there, the sea got some rest. There was a chance for the dirt to flow out naturally.)

Environment Undersecretary Sherwin Rigor, meanwhile, said: "It’s drinkable but that’s still saltwater so I advise against consuming it."

President Rodrigo Duterte had once called Boracay a "cesspool," a reference to its dirty waters amid the island's overcrowding, sewage woes and poorly regulated development. 

Meanwhile, coliform at the Bolabog beach, where the island’s treated waste water is discharged, dropped by 20 to 30 percent but is still around 20,000 to 30,000 mpn, Rigor said.

“That is because mayroon pa tayong discharges due to construction,” he said.

(That is because there are still discharges due to construction.)

“Pero substantial na 'yung na-decrease diyan dahil wala nang nagdi-discharge from the beachfront,” he said.

(But the decrease has been substantial because there is no longer any discharge from the beachfront.)

The government expects the Bolabog beach to achieve “swimming quality” next year when road repairs are scheduled to be completed, he said.

Tourists have been barred from entering Boracay island since April 26 to give way to an unprecedented rehabilitation effort. It will be reopened to the public on Friday, October 26.