MANILA, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government plans to start in January next year a clean up drive to rehabilitate the polluted and foul-smelling Manila Bay, a well-known natural harbor in the capital that offers a scenic sunset view.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it plans to restore the heavily-polluted bay to its "pristine" state. The bay, that runs in the strip of Roxas Boulevard in Manila, is contaminated with human feces and trash coming from human sewage.
"We are preparing for an all-out strategy to bring the coliform concentration in Manila Bay to a safe level so that millions of people who reside in the bay region and neighboring areas will enjoy its waters and marine resources without fear of getting sick," Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said over the weekend.
He added "I am determined to start the rehabilitation of Manila Bay immediately, possibly to start (in the) second week of January."
Cimatu said the DENR aims to "reduce the coliform to a level where we can swim again," Cimatu said. "The (current) coliform level is a magnified cesspool."
A report from the DENR Environmental Management Bureau said the current levels of coliform bacteria of 330 million most probable number (MPN) for each 100 milliliters or way above the safe coliform level of only 100 MPN/100ml. It means the bay's coliform level is three million times higher than the safe level.
Already, the DENR warned the establishments along the shores of Manila Bay to stop dumping their trash and untreated sewage into the bay and to comply with environmental regulations.
The bay spans parts of the Metropolitan Manila, Central Luzon, and the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
Part of the DENR's strategy is to ensure the compliance with environmental laws of local government units (LGUs) surrounding the bay, Cimatu added.
Moreover, the DENR said it is looking at technologies that will treat water of pollutants, whether directly discharged into the bay or through toilets, to address problem on human waste arising from the presence of informal settlers along the bay.
The Philippine Department of Health has warned people from swimming in Manila Bay due to its polluted water.