Coliform test raise red flags in Bohol resort town
PANGLAO, Bohol — A report by an environmental agency on water quality in a resort in this world-famous island is bound to prove one of the biggest paradoxes of paradise destinations—if it looks clear, it could be dirty.
The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an agency attached to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), on Jan. 4 presented results of tests made by its Ambient Monitoring Station on the water quality of Alona Resort, one of many resorts located in this top tourism destination.
The results, presented to members of the Panglao Island Chamber of Commerce and Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants, were unsavory.
The town’s mayor, Leonila Paredes-Montero, however, said the water quality test results were far from being alarming.
“I believe this is a political issue,” said Montero, without elaborating. “No investor will kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”
She said the local government “spends so much for investment” in Panglao to make it “very safe for tourists.”
“Visit Panglao and let’s enjoy the beauty of Panglao,” said the mayor.
The EMB report on water quality tests made in the village of Tawala, where Alona Resort is located, showed levels of fecal coliform bacteria exceeding DENR standards for recreational water.
According to test results, total fecal coliform in the area was 305.70 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters, way above the acceptable level of 100 MPN per 100 ml.
Total coliform (including other forms of coliform) level in waters of the village of Tawala in the second quarter of 2017 peaked at 841.69 MPN per 100 ml, still below but near the safe level of 1,000 MPN per 100 ml for water for swimming and other activities, according to the EMB report.
The report said for two years in a row, total coliform levels in the area were within standards but the level of fecal coliform continued to spike and breach acceptable levels.
The EMB said Alona Resort’s waters were still safe to swim or bathe in but asked local officials and environmental advocates to address the rise in fecal coliform levels.
Fecal coliform bacteria come from human and animal feces.
Councilor Rogelin Degoma called on all stakeholders to help maintain Alona Resort as a pristine facility while the local government of Panglao tried to solve the problem.
Degoma said while the DENR gave assurances that the coliform report was “not yet alarming,” the local government unit finds it “already alarming.”
Sources of dirt
She said it was possible the spike in fecal coliform bacteria was due to waste disposal by tourist boats that pack the shoreline and stray dogs.
She said the DENR would conduct further water quality tests in Panglao on Jan. 15.
Degoma said the local government would strictly apply the “no discharge permit, no business permit” policy for establishments and inspect sewerage treatment plants to minimize and prevent the rise of coliform.
Degoma said not all resorts in Panglao had wastewater treatment facilities.
A requirement for septic tanks to have three to five chambers had not been complied with by some resort owners, Degoma said.
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