DENR findings show ‘cleaner’ Manila Bay with lowered fecal coliform level

Published February 18, 2021, 11:20 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

The water in Manila Bay is a lot “cleaner” now than last year based on its reduced fecal coliform level.


In a statement Thursday, February 18, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that the present fecal coliform level at Manila Bay is 
4.87 million most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100ml). This was based on samples taken last Feb. 8 from 21 stations surrounding the Manila Bay.

In comparison, the annual average for 2020 was 7.16 million million mpn/100ml, meaning that fecal coliform level has “significantly lowered” according to Cimatu.

Moreover, Cimatu noted that fecal coliform level in the waters near the beach nourishment project has dropped from 2.2 million mpn/100ml last Jan. 4 to 523,000 mpn/100 ml on Feb. 8, based on the average count from three monitoring stations.

“We have doubled, if not tripled, our efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay, especially in bringing down the water’s fecal coliform,” stressed the Manila Bay Task Force chairman.

The DENR statement came a few days after House Deputy Speaker and former Manila mayor Lito Atienza said that Manila Bay waters were “filthier than before,” particularly during his time as local chief executive.

Whether it’s a fair comparison or not, Atienza said that fecal coliform count at the bay was just “50,000 to 80,000 most probable number per milliliter” in 1999, or over 20 years ago.

Cimatu reiterated his commitment to further lowering the fecal coliform of the Manila Bay to Class SB in order to be safe for recreational activities and fishing.

“We will make sure that we continue to clean the waters of Manila Bay until it becomes safe again for contact activities,” he said. 

According to Wikipedia, fecal coliform is a “facultatively anaerobic, rod-shaped, gram-negative, non-sporulating bacterium” that originates in the intestines of warm-blooded animals.

It adds that the presence of fecal coliforms in water may not be directly harmful, and does not necessarily indicate the presence of feces.