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Step up bay cleanup as it continues  to draw people



e-cartoon-apr-24-2019Baseco beach  in Tondo, Manila, was filled with thousands of  Manilans  on Easter Sunday, out to enjoy even just a few minutes of wading in the cool waters of the bay on a specially hot summer day. They can  no longer do this in the waters  off  Roxas  Blvd. and Rizal Park, where  wire fences keep the peope from getting to the water and signs tell them the water is not safe for swimming.

The water in that part of the bay, especially  near Remedios  St. in Malate was found  at one time to have a coliform bacteria level of 35 million MPN (most probable number). It  seems there is a sewer nearby spewing  untreated human and animal wastes into the bay.  After the Department  of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) closed down the  Manila Zoo and other polluting  places in Malate,  coliform  levels  went down in the area.

From 35 million MPN near Remedios St., the level went down to 11 million last February 11-15. From    7.9  million  MPN near Padre  Faura, the level went down to 1.6 million. From 1.2 million MPN in  the area behind the United States Embassy, the level went down to  1,700 MPN.

But the safe  coliform level for swimming , the DENR said, is 100 MPN. This means the tested areas are still way above safe levels. Hence, the need  for  that wire fence along the entire length of Roxas Bolevard  keeping people froms wading into the bay.

Out  on Baseco  at the mouth of  the Pasig River, a V-shaped compound  northwest of the North Harbor, the water is probably  cleaner as it is far from the sewers of Malate,  and so  the people feel  safer as they wade out into the waters of the bay. But  the entire Manila Bay is said to be polluted, as a result of decades of  untreated wastes flowing into it  through countless rivers in Bataan, Pampanga,  Bulacan,  Metro  Manila, and Cavite.

This is today the  biggest challenge facing the DENR. It is a problem  a hundred times bigger than Boracay.  There is garbage of all kinds, including  plastics that threaten sealife,  but the principal concern is  the  pollution from millions of homes, farms, and factories, a problem  which the Supreme  Court ordered  the government to solve as early as 2008

People around the bay have long enjoyed its waters in the heat of summer. They can no longer do so in the highly populated areas of Manila  because  of the wire fences and the signs warning  them of  the pollution. There  are yet no such  fences and  signs on Baseco island, and we hope the pollution  level has not reached  danger levels in  that part of the bay.

But the  DENR should  extend its tests to all areas around the bay to protect the people who are not yet fully aware of the danger in the bay’s waters. And it should  carry on its cleanup and rehabilitation program without letup in the next five years which,  by  its own estimates, will be needed be needed to complete  the task.

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