THE announcement that the seawaters off Lapu-Lapu City contain coliform bacteria beyond safe levels threatens the livelihood of many residents in the tourism sector, said Mayor Paz Radaza.
Radaza questioned the findings of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which said that water samples taken from some beaches in Lapu-Lapu City showed coliform levels at 13,000 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters (ml).
Radaza said that the City Government also took water samples off local beaches and sent these to the Talisay Water Lab, a private laboratory. She said that all the samples passed.
The EMB 7 earlier said the safe level for coliform bacteria in waters for swimming is 1,000 MPN per 100 ml.
Coliform bacteria is associated with the feces of humans and animals.
Radaza expressed doubts on the EMB 7’s test results.
“They have to remember that the city of Lapu-Lapu is a tourism area. Never nagkaingon ani. I don't know kung naa ba ni sagol nga di mao (This did not happen before. I don’t know if something odd is in involved here),” she said during a press conference yesterday. She said that she hopes EMB-DENR will consider the livelihood of many residents who work in the resorts.
“What will happen to the person who dives into the sea? Will he get rashes?” Radaza asked.
Shortly after the mayor’s press conference, EMB 7 Director William Cuñado issued a statement saying that the sea around Lapu-Lapu City is still clean and safe for swimming and other recreational activities.
Cuñado said that the report released earlier referred to an isolated case and does not mean that the waters off all beaches in Lapu-Lapu City are contaminated.
Cuñado said that the coliform level is expected to increase during the peak tourist season. He said that the level of the coliform in the water is also higher in cove-type coasts.
But he said that coliform disappears during high tide.
Cuñado said he plans to meet Radaza and the Department of Tourism to discuss how to monitor and manage the safety and sanitation of the city’s beaches.
In a separate interview, Lapu-Lapu City Health Officer Rodulfo Berame said the EMB-DENR should coordinate with them whenever the agency conducts water sampling in beach resorts.