MANILA – Authorities may soon open to the public another beach along Manila Bay.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu raised such possibility, citing assessment of authorities in Pampanga province regarding quality of water in part of Manila Bay's coast there.
“Yesterday in Pampanga, I was told they'll open a beach there,” he said Wednesday (April 24) in Quezon City at DENR’s 2019 celebration of the annual Earth Day, the environmental protection-advocating global event this month.
Cimatu said he can officially declare such beach as safe for swimming if water there meets DENR's fecal coliform standard of 100 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters.
Experts said fecal coliform are bacteria found in human and animal feces.
Presence of coliform bacteria indicates contamination of water where these micro-organisms are, they noted, adding that such water has potential to cause disease.
Earlier this month, Cimatu officially declared Aguawan Beach in Bataan province as safe for swimming since water there already meets the fecal coliform standard.
Aguawan Beach is the first beach along Manila Bay's 192 km-long coastline to be declared as swimmable since government commenced rehabilitating this water body.
Government is rehabilitating Manila Bay so water there can be fit again for swimming and other forms of contact recreation.
According to DENR, decades-long flow of feces and other wastes thrown into Manila Bay raised fecal coliform level in this water body to over 330 million MPN per 100 milliliters before government officially kicked off the rehabilitation in January 2019.
Cimatu said the rehabilitation is beginning to yield positive results.
"Coliform level in Manila Bay has gone down significantly," he said.
However, he said much work still needs to be done so water in Manila Bay can meet DENR's fecal coliform standard.
Manila Bay borders Metro Manila, Region 4-A's Cavite province and Region 3's provinces of Pampanga and Bataan.
Cleaning up Manila Bay and its tributaries, relocating informal settlers, and educating the public about the environment and solid waste management are the rehabilitation's key activities.
Cimatu thanked the Rotary International District 3780 in Quezon City for committing to help clean up part of Tullahan River, one of Manila Bay's tributaries.
He also thanked Couples for Christ movement for offering to help plant trees and lauded various private groups for their respective environmental protection efforts.
"DENR values your support," he assured them.
At the Earth Day celebration, he led the parties' declaration of commitment to environmental protection.
"Let's have in mind the next generations who won't have a clean environment if we don't act now," he said.
Environmental protection is the best legacy to future generations, he added. (PNA)