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DENR cites improvement in Manila Bay water quality

July 16, 2022 Cory Martinez 323 views

THE continuing rehabilitation efforts in all river systems and tributaries within the Manila Bay region has significantly “improved” the bay’s water quality.

Based on the data issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – through the Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) as of June 2022, the fecal coliform level at the Manila Bay beach nourishment station near the United States Embassy in Manila has decreased to 2,400 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100mL) from 7,100 MPN/100mL in 2021.

Two water quality monitoring stations near “Dolomite Beach” also registered lower fecal coliform levels – from 7,300 MPN/100mL to 1,700 MPN/100mL and from 10,200 MPN/100mL to 2,100 MPN/100mL, respectively.

EMB-NCR Regional Director Michael Drake P. Matias said four Metropolitan Environment Offices also reported a significant decrease in fecal coliform levels within their respective areas.

Fecal coliform levels have dropped in the Malabon-Navotas-Tullahan-Tinajeros River System from 3.7 billion MPN/100mL to 4.8 million MPN/100mL, as well as in the waters near the Navotas Fishport from 920,000 MPN/100mL to 9,200 MPN/100mL.

“We have seen remarkable gains in Manila Bay based on the water quality monitoring results. Rest assured that we will not stop here and will continue our work as part of the Manila Bay rehabilitation project,” Matias explained.

Although the readings show that the current levels are still far from the fecal coliform standard of 100 MPN/100mL to restore Manila Bay’s water quality to Class SB level, Matias said the goal is a “big challenge”, but attainable through the collaboration of both local and national governments and the public.

“Class SB” is a DENR classification for coastal areas and waters where the public may safely engage in bathing, swimming, skin diving, and similar recreational activities.

“Reaching the 100 MPN/100mL standard is not impossible through our solid waste management strategies, geoengineering interventions, and with the establishment of our real-time online water quality monitoring system,” Matias said.

The EMB-NCR checks 412 monitoring sampling stations scattered in various water bodies of Metro Manila.

Twenty-three stations, which include stations near the Dolomite Beach, Rizal Park Hotel, and US Embassy, are being monitored three times a week.

Meanwhile, 18 stations – including the Manila Yacht Club sewerage treatment plant and Aristocrat Restaurant monitoring stations – are monitored weekly.

The EMB-NCR also conducts monthly monitoring of 133 stations, which include the Manila Bay river outfalls and Marikina River.

Together with the EMB-Region III and EMB-Region IV-A, it also conducts quarterly monitoring of 206 stations, which include the Navotas River Shipyard and Manila Bay shoreline.

It added that 32 stations, which include Estero de Marala, Estero de Magdalena, Estero de Vitas, and Estero de Sunog Apog, are monitored semi-annually.

EMB-NCR has developed and established an online water quality monitoring system on their website to allow easy public access.

Matias explained that the data system will provide information and awareness to the public through the current status and trend of water quality in the creeks and water bodies in Metro Manila.

It will also serve as the basis for crafting policies, plans, and regulations to decrease water pollution within the respective areas of jurisdiction of the local government units (LGUs).

The ongoing Manila Bay rehabilitation project follows the Supreme Court mandamus, directing 13 government agencies, including the DENR, to clean up, rehabilitate, and restore Manila Bay’s waters to make it fit for swimming and other contact recreation activities.