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Dirty water prompts Cebu government to ban swimming off Cordova town
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2022
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has banned swimming and other water activities off Cordova town after a test done by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confirmed the presence of fecal coliform in the waters.
Although the test was confined only to Catarman, Garcia said her swimming ban would cover all areas on Cordova’s coastline.
“There is an urgent need to immediately prohibit public swimming and similar activities found within the coastal waters of Cordova … delineated by the technical descriptions,” she said in an executive order.
A high level of fecal coliform was found in the area where fixed and floating cottages for visitors were built.
Garcia asked owners of these cottages to remove their structures until Oct. 4. Those still standing after the deadline would be demolished by the local government.
The governor said the Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and the Cordova municipal government would help enforce the provincial government’s demolition order.
Garcia earlier ordered owners of floating and fixed cottages in Cordova to stop their operations after high levels of coliform were detected in municipal waters.
“When I saw these illegal cottages, I told myself they should not be allowed to operate again,” she said during a meeting with local officials and cottage owners at Cordova Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Garcia said the cottages had been operating without restrooms and proper waste management systems. Owners, she said, also failed to secure the necessary permits or clearances from the local government.
If floating cottages continue their operations, Garcia said this would practically “kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” referring to the income brought by local tourism. She described the situation in Cordova as a “marine disaster waiting to happen.”
On Aug. 15, Cordova Mayor Cesar Suan announced that the level of coliform in the town’s waters had increased, making it unsafe for swimming, citing a report from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the DENR.
Water quality tests conducted by the EMB in the past two months showed that the coliform level in the seas of Cordova reached 1,300 most probable number per 100 millilitres. For bodies of water to be safe for swimming, the coliform levels should only be at 100 MPN per ml.
The Department of Health earlier warned that swimming in waters with high fecal coliform bacteria levels can lead to various diseases, such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, and dysentery.
“You should know that the cottages in Cordova are illegal, and you cannot just do what you want,” Garcia said.
The provincial government would give each of the 73 owners of floating cottages and 54 operators of fixed structures P10,000 financial assistance.
Suan said the municipal government would set aside a separate P5,000 aid and a sack of rice for those whose cottages would be demolished.
Philippine Daily Inquirer