By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Pasig River has the lowest level of fecal coliform among the 11 river outfalls directly draining to the Manila Bay, the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) said, citing a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) report conducted earlier this year.
President Duterte has said that reviving Pasig River is already “impossible,” but PRRC maintained its stance that the historic river can still be rehabilitated as shown in the latest laboratory test results.
Citing the January 2019 DENR report, PRRC noted that Pasig River had a fecal coliform count of 452,000 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100 ml). The sample was particularly taken from the Jones Bridge, which is near the river’s mouth into the Manila Bay.
The Commission said it is the lowest record among the 11 waterways, which are considered the most crucial to the rehabilitation of the Pasig River.
Based on the data, only the Pasig River registered below the million mark, as the fecal coliform count in other waterways numbered at millions to even billions, with the highest recorded at Balut Station in Tondo, Manila with 1.99 billion MPN/100 ml during the same observation period.
The acceptable level of fecal coliform for Class SB or recreational water is only 100 MPN/100 ml and for Class C or fishery water is just 200 MPN/100 ml.
Fecal coliform comes from human and animal waste. The presence of high levels of fecal coliforms in waterways poses potential health risks in humans and animals when exposed to disease-causing strains and organisms resulting to diarrhea, severe food poisoning, and other illnesses outside of the intestinal tract.
Meanwhile, based on the January 2019 Pasig River Unified Monitoring Stations (PRUMS) water quality monitoring report of the PRRC conducted with DENR and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), fecal coliform count at the Jones Bridge was 260,000 MPN/100 ml.
By September 2019, the PRUMS report showed that fecal coliform count in the same area was down to 79,000 MPN/100 ml.
PRRC attributed the lower count to the daily cleanup and rehabilitation efforts of the agency and its public and private sector partners.
It said it has been working with water concessionaires, such as Maynilad in the installation of interceptor canals in different waterways in Manila, which will prevent direct untreated wastewater discharge of households and establishments to the waterways.