By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said water quality of major outfalls directly draining to Manila Bay significantly improved, a year after the previously polluted watershed started to be rehabilitated.
Citing latest data from the Department’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said coliform levels in the Manila Bay have “drastically decreased” compared to the extremely high fecal coliform amount recorded prior to the rehabilitation program which began January 26 last year.
According to Cimatu, the EMB findings showed a lower fecal coliform count at the Padre Faura outfall which is now at 920,000 most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100ml) from its pre-rehab record of 7.21 million mpn/100ml.
While at the Raja Soliman/Remedios drainage outfall across Aristocrat Restaurant, coliform level went down to 11 million mpn/100ml from the 35 million mpn/100ml recorded before the rehabilitation began.
The coliform level at the Manila Yacht Club outfall also plunged to 110 million mpn/100ml from a high 54 million mpn/100ml prior to the bay’s rehab program.
“There is a reason to celebrate now because a year after we launched the ‘Battle for Manila Bay,’ we have recorded significant improvements in the water quality from major drainage outfall,” Cimatu, who also chairs the Manila Bay Task Force, said.
Despite these improvements, however, Cimatu pointed out that more needs to be done to further improve Manila Bay’s water quality as its standard fecal coliform level is 100 mpn/100ml based on its classification as “Class SB” coastal and marine water.
President Duterte has allocated P42.95 billion for the Manila Bay rehabilitation project for three years to be implemented by at least 13 government agencies.
The government targets the source of water pollution in an effort to rehabilitate, restore and maintain the historic bay to a level fit for swimming, as mandated in the mandamus issued by the Supreme Court in 2008.
To mark the Battle for Manila Bay’s first year on Sunday, the DENR has lined up several activities such as the inauguration of the sewage interceptor and treatment plant located in front of the Manila Yacht Club.
The DENR said that this facility is capable of treating 500,000 liters of wastewater per day to ensure that no untreated wastewater from the drainage outfalls flows into the bay.
A cleanup activity will also take place at the Baseco Beach, followed by the signing of the Pledge of Support from the private sector to the DENR’s War on Waste to be led by members of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability (PARMS).
The DENR will also launch the Solid Waste Management Advocacy Program which aims to increase public awareness on waste segregation, reducing garbage and raising cash from trash.