DENR: Manila Bay’s water quality better

Three men tinker with their mobile devices along Manila Bay at dawn

THE Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) has revealed a marked improvement in water quality in Manila Bay, particularly the Baywalk area, which is a priority in the government’s rehabilitation effort.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) attributed this to the various interventions of concerned government agencies under the Manila Bay Task Force.

The geo-engineering interventions conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in the Baywalk area, such as the installation of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipes for the Padre Faura, Remedios, and Abad Outfalls, and desilting, among others, are nearing completion.

In one of the three sampling stations of Dolomite Beach, the coliform level has significantly gone down to 1,700 mpn/100 mL as of December 22, 2021, from a geomean of 1.6 million last September 2020. Other stations also recorded notable decreases in coliform levels.

According to the MBCO, there was a notable decrease in coliform levels in all its nine key stations being monitored in the area. It recorded an average of 21,100 most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100mL) as of the third quarter of 2021 from 5.75 million mpn/100 mL in 2019.

On the other hand, four key stations in the Baseco beach area registered a decrease in coliform level from an overall geomean of 145,000 mpn/100 mL in 2020 to 21,500 mpn/100 mL in September 2021.

The MBCO reported that in September 2021, the Baywalk Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), which treats wastewater from the Padre Faura, Remedios, and Estero de San Antonio de Abad outfalls, was receiving an influent of 8.8 million mpn/100mL and releasing an effluent of 9.4 mpn/100ml, passing the fecal coliform standard of 100 mpn/100mL for Class SB waters.

In the same month, the fecal coliform level in Obando, Talisay, and Pampanga rivers in Region 3—which are aiming for Class C water standard of 200 mpn/100 mL—only ranged in thousands. The Cañas River in Region 4A recorded 106,000 mpn/200 mL from 9.6 million mpn/200 mL last January 2021.

Meanwhile, the coliform level of nine bathing beach areas, which aim to achieve a Class SB level across the NCR, Region 3, and Region 4A, has decreased in thousands as of MBCO’s latest data.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Management Bureau in NCR, Regions 3 and 4A, and the Laguna Lake Development Authority issued Notices of Violation to 685 establishments, Cease and Desist Orders to five establishments, and Ex-Parte Orders to five establishments out of the 4,576 establishments inspected from January to September 2021 for violation of Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

In terms of solid waste management, a total 50,618.94 cubic meters of garbage from shorelines, waterways, rivers, and beaches were collected and disposed from 19,088 cleanup activities including collection from trash traps and trash boats and declogging conducted from January to September 2021 by the DENR, involving 82,151 volunteers and Estero Rangers.

On the other hand, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has also collected and disposed of 17,946.1 cubic meters of solid waste.

The Task Force Water Hyacinth created in 2021 led the collection of a total of 76,224 sacks of water hyacinth in Manila Bay.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu vowed to carry on rehabilitation efforts this year in compliance with the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court.

To recall, the DENR led the launching of the Battle for Manila Bay on January 27, 2019, two months before Covid-19 became widespread and compelled the Duterte administration to declare a national public health emergency.

“Amid the persistent Covid-19 pandemic, the DENR along with the Manila Bay Interagency Task Force persevered this year in its task to rehabilitate Manila Bay. We have accomplished so much and we vow to sustain our gains for a cleaner Manila Bay in 2022,” Cimatu said in a statement.

“As the rehabilitation continues, I call on fellow Filipinos to be part of this huge and vital task to restore Manila Bay to its pristine condition through behavioral change. It’s high time that we totally alter our habits on waste disposal as well as our attitude on taking responsibility for one’s actions. Our cleanup efforts will be in vain if these will not be sustained by the public, and especially by the new administration this 2022,” said Cimatu. 

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