EMB notes poor water quality in some major rivers in Cebu

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Marian Z. Codilla |October 15,2015 - 02:02 AM

Official also notes high fecal coliform level in Mactan beaches

Some major rivers in Cebu have been found to have poor water quality, the Environmental Management Bureau in region 7 reported.

Only the Luyang River in Carmen town, a major water source of Metro Cebu, has been found to be in relatively “good condition,” said Engineer Cindylyn Pepito, chief of the Ambient Quality Monitoring section of the EMB 7.

Pepito said other rivers have shown signs of pollution, apparently caused by the lack or absence of proper solid waste management.

The beaches along Mactan’s east coast have also been found to have high coliform levels, which Pepito described as “alarming.”

But she said these worrisome results can still be reversed. Besides, not all water bodies in Cebu failed to meet Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) quality standards.

“We need to look at the bright side that there are also waters that have passed our study. There are different classifications and monitoring for our water bodies and there are other areas that passed the standards,” Pepito said during the Understanding Choices Forum Series on Water at the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) last week.

Based on the 2014 Water Quality Status Report of the EMB 7, Pepito said water samples from most of rivers showed dissolved oxygen (DO) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) levels that failed to meet DENR standards.

A low DO level would cause some marine species to move away or die. It could also indicate pollution as does a high BOD level. BOD refers to the amount of oxygen needed by micro organisms in breaking down wastes.

EMB 7 has been monitoring the Butuanon River in Mandaue, Guadalupe River in Cebu City, Luyang River in Carmen, Sapangdaku River in Toledo City, coastal waters in the east coast of Mactan, Liloan coast, and Cansaga Bay in Consolacion.

Pepito said the DO levels in Butuanon River in Mandaue City have failed to meet DENR’s Class D water quality standard, which is 3 mg per liter. DO levels exceeded the standard only in January and September last year. The lowest reading was in May last year at 1.55 mg/liter.

Pepito also said only 42 percent of the BOD levels met the water quality criteria for Class D, which is 15 mg per liter. The BOD reading for the river peaked in September last year at 113.82 mg per liter, which was 8 times more than the standard.

Pepito explained that there are different classifications for rivers.

Class A are public water supply that can be drank when treated; Class B are those that have come in contact with skin; Class C are fit for fish or shrimp propagation while Class D are fit for propagation of some types of fish.

For Guadalupe River in Cebu City, a Class B in the upstream and Class C in the downstream, some sampling areas still recorded levels not within DO and BOD standards.

The same findings were recorded for Luyang River in Carmen and Sapangdaku River in Toledo City, which are both Class A and C rivers.

Coliform

The EMB also took samples of seawater from the Hilutungan Channel in the Mactan east coast, which is home to some beach resorts.

They recorded high levels of fecal and total coliform in some of their beach monitoring stations in the area, Pepito said.

The standard for fecal coliform is 200 MPN (Most Probable Number) per 100 ml, but they recorded almost 3000 MPN per 100 ml in some areas.

For total coliform, which has a standard of 1000 MPN per 100 ml, they recorded some areas which reached as high as 5000.

“These data are alarming. But we have to show them. We can’t just pinpoint this to the resorts there since there are also other factors like the settlers and the fishermen. We are measuring the ambient environment,” Pepito explained.

She said they will be sending copies of the results to the local government units where the bodies of water are located.

She also challenged the public to help improve the quality of the rivers and channels in the province.

Secretary Neric Acosta, Presidential Adviser for Environment Protection, said local communities need to be aware and understand the value of the rivers to better protect and manage them.

“Our rivers are in an ICU state and we cannot just pretend that everything is okay. We cannot continue to flagrantly violate our laws,” he said.

“Cebu, being a hub for tourism, its industrial growth and urban development will be disabled if we have water insecurity. Everything else collapses. We have a potential to break down and we don’t want that to happen,” Acosta added.

He said everyone in the community must realize that they are stakeholders.

“No one is exempted,” he said.

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