Boracay's White Beach shows improved coliform levels — Task Force

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — Latest water sample tests showed most parts of Boracay's beach front have low coliform levels.

The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force presented the monitoring results Friday during the congressional hearing conducted by the House Committee on Natural Resources headed by PGMA Partylist Representative Arnel Ty.

However, the task force was unable to present data showing fecal coliform concentration levels in the same area prior to the closure of the island.

The latest water samples were taken on May 26 from 19 testing sites spread throughout the 4.5 kilometer beach front.

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Only two of the nineteen testing sites showed high concentrations of coliform.

The standard tolerable limit is 400MPM (most probable number) for every 100ml.

The task force identified areas with high coliform levels. These are the areas near Steve's Cliff in Station One and Water Colors Boracay Dive resort, also in Station One, with coliform levels of 2,750MPN and 579MPN, respectively.

On May 25, 16 waste water pipes were excavated from the beach front and some of these were found leading towards the sea.

Offshore water sampling

Earlier water sampling conducted on April 18, a few days before the island's closure showed high level of fecal coliform concentration in offshore sites.

These included mostly drainage outfalls on the island.

Results showed the coliform levels reached millions of MPN per 100ml.

The highest recorded coliform level was a sample taken from a manhole which read up to  25,994,000MPN/100ml.

The inter-agency task force attributed this to the ongoing rehabilitation of the drainage canals during the period.

Bulabog beach sampling sites

Since April 8, the coliform levels from a Bulabog natural drainage site have been declining after illegal pipelines that were discharging wastewater to wetlands without prior treatment were identified.

The Bulabog beach area in Barangay Balabag was known for its dirty water due to the outfall of the drainage systems there. It is located on the east side of the island – opposite the white beach front.

A drainage outfall, fronting 7 Stones Hotel in Bulabog beach area, had coliform levels of up to 2,419,600MPN/100ml as of testing on April 18.

It has since been reduced to 3,550MPN/100ml.

In the nearby Tulubhan area, the coliform level at a drainage outfall was measured 24,196,000MPN/100ml.

There are four drainage outfalls that were discharging waste water in the Bulabog and Tulubhan areas.

Two of these were already closed by the Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC), while the two other outfalls will also be closed by the provincial government and the Boracay Tubi Systems, Inc.

The closure of the two outfalls (Drainage Outfall I & II) resulted in a big drop of coliform levels as shown in the May 28 water sampling test.

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The pollution in the waters of Boracay Island was the main reason why President Rodrigo Duterte called it a "cesspool" on February 10.

This resulted to the six-month, temporary shutdown of the island to all tourists and local visitors which began on April 26.

Ty told reporters after the hearing on Friday, that a proposed bill creating Boracay Development Authority will be filed when Congress resumes its session on July 23.

Ty said the special authority will supervise activities on the tourist island of Boracay.