Cebu News

Mactan seawaters still safe – DENR

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - It is still safe to swim and engage in recreational activities in the beaches in Mactan Island, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 clarified yesterday.

The corrective statement came after a media report said some beaches in Lapu-Lapu City are unsafe for these activities owing to due to the rise of fecal coliform.

William Cunado, chief of DENR’s Environmental Management Bureaum, said the high presence of coliform bacteria does not necessarily mean that the area is polluted.

Seawater samples taken by EMB from Parker Beach, a public beach resort in Lapu-Lapu, last year, showed fecal coliform level registered highest in February at 3,500 most probable number (MPN).

The standard coliform level is 200 MPN or 100 milliliters. The months of January, May, July, August, October and November also recorded above the 200-MPN standard level.

 In August last year, the highest level of coliform was registered at Palmera Beach, another public beach in the city, with 13,00 MPN. The standard coliform is 1000 MPN.

The following month, it dropped to 8,000 MPN. The rest of the year, the coliform level was a little above 1,000 MPN or lower.

In Palm Beach, also a public beach, the months of May and August registered a coliform level of 13,000 MPN. The rest of the year, the level was a little above the standard or way below it.

 Cunado explained not all coliform bacteria are harmless. Some of these are “good bacteria.” Others are fecal or those from human and animal urine and waste.

 The case may be that but “this is just an isolated case” considering that the high coliform presence only happens during summer season or when there is a large crowd, Cunado said.

 “Kung January until December molapas sa standard, dili na maayo ang condition pero og mo-spike ra gani for a certain month, dili na polluted,” he said.

 He said conditions during testing are also a factor. For example, a large crowd at a small public beach can cause coliform level to rise, especially if 25 percent of urinate while in the water. Also, when water sampling is done during low tide, the low dissolution of the bacteria can also affect the level.

 Cunado clarified further that the high levels of bacteria were registered at public beaches, not in private resorts where EMB also takes water samples monthly.

 Cindy Pepito, EMB 7’s ambient monitoring head, said once the contaminated water is washed away to the ocean, the bacteria will eventually get dissolved by the salinity of the water.


Roderico Taga-an, environment and natural resources officer of Lapu-Lapu, said it is the duty of the city to ensure the safety of its beaches and seawaters, considering that the city and Mactan as a whole thrives on tourism.

 He said Lapu-Lapu has its own monitoring system and its recent findings mirror that of EMB’s.

No less than Mayor Paz Radaza questioned the media report, saying at least 10 beach resorts submitted water samples last year and eventually passed the bacteriological test conducted by Talisay Water Testing Laboratory, which is accredited by the Department of Health.

In another result last March 16 made by the said private water testing laboratory (still last year), the lowest fecal coliform level was around 8 and the highest was recorded at around 110.

According to September 14 results, the lowest fecal coliform level was recorded at around 20 and the highest is 45.

Radaza also showed this year’s water test results in which four resorts – Pacific Cebu Resort, Blue Reef Resort, BE Mactan Resort and Crimson Resort and Spa – passed the bacteriological test from the same private testing center last March 8.

The lowest fecal coliform level was recorded around 2 and the highest fecal coliform was around 43.

“It’s way below 1000. Wala pa gani nakaabot og 500,” Radaza said.

Radaza said the City Environment and Natural Resources Office together with the City Health Office regularly checks on the city’s water.

“I had it checked sa atong CENRO office og ni Doctor (Rodolfo) Berame, nagpakuha ko ani kay this is actually a regular thing. Regular man gyud ang siyudad sa Lapu-Lapu nga mukuha og result,” she said.

Cunado urged the city, beach owners, and the Department of Tourism to create a multi-partite group to regulate the activities at beaches to prevent beachgoers from abusing the beaches.

 “(There is a need) to regulate the users… para mapadayon ang business without affecting the quality of water,” he said.  — with Christell R. Tudtud (FREEMAN)

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