DENR tests 'smelly' wastewaster of mall near Manila Bay

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Parts of Manila Bay are home to a whopping 1.3 billion MPN of coliform for every 100 ml; the safe level is below 200 MPN/100 ml.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 11) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it is awaiting results of "smelly" wastewater reportedly coming from a mall  near the heavily polluted Manila Bay.

During inspections Saturday morning near the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu pointed out that it collected samples from wastewater coming from its outfalls.

"Doon lalabas yung supposed to be waste water na nanggagaling diyan. Meaning treated water, supposed to be. But nagpunta sila, mga tao natin doon, medyo smelly. So there must be something wrong with the wastewater na lumalabas diyan. We got some samples, and the result will be released by Monday," Cimatu said in a statement Saturday.

Cimatu said they will meet with the mall's management to check the coliform content of the water from these outfalls -- which will determine the presence of pollutants and disease-causing pathogens.

He also ordered establishments to put in place sewage treatment plants in three months, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive.

In a statement, SM Mall of Asia said it has not received formal report from the DENR on the inspection.

"Moreover, we have always supported the major projects of the government for the progress of the country," their statement read.

The DENR team also inspected the mouth of the Pasig River, which leads to Manila Bay.

Authorities also inspected the Baseco compound area, where they found several households of 47,000 families dumping waste straight into the bay. Coliform is a group of harmful bacteria from human and animal feces.

While trash traps, common septic tanks and a sewage treatment plant are seen as solutions to pollution in the area, Cimatu opted for relocating the settlers as a more permanent solution.

"They are not supposed to be there, lalo na itong mga informal settlers na ito, 50 diyan, 50 rin dito (especially these informal settlers, 50 there, 50 here). They have to go, they have to be relocated," he said.

Rehabilitating Manila Bay comes in three stages:  Phase 1 -- cleanup and improvement of water quality improvement, Phase 2 -- rehabilitation, and Phase 3 -- protection and sustainment.

Cimatu said Phase 1 is set to begin this year, which will include the cleanup of esteros and waterways, reduction of the level of coliform and toxic waste from establishments, and the installation of sanitation facilities for informal settlers residing along the esteros and the Manila Bay shoreline.

The DENR said coliform level in Manila Bay is at 330 million most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100 ml). Some parts are home to a whopping 1.3 billion MPN of coliform for every 100 ml; the safe level is below 200 MPN/100 ml.