GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in the Soccsksargen on Friday, August 26, cautioned people from swimming at a public beach resort in General Santos City due to alarmingly high levels of the coliform bacteria found in the waters off its coastline.
Omar Saikol, EMB regional director, said the water samples taken at the popular Queen Tuna Park tested to have coliform levels higher than the allowable limit.
The coliform levels reached as much as 4,324.24 most probable number per 100 milliliters against the allowable level of 200 MPN per 100 ML.
Saikol said such coliform levels were “exceedingly high.”
Coliform has been a recurring problem in the area, blamed on human and animal wastes from populated sections of the coastline of Sarangani Bay, a protected seascape.
The EMB has alerted the city government of General Santos through the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), urging local officials to prevent people from plunging into the waters off Queen Tuna Park.
The park is a popular beach resort, especially among lowly residents for its accessibility. Lately, an evening flea market was set up at the seafront, drawing patrons to its eateries and food stalls.
“We hope the local government will heed our request to prevent swimming there,” Saikol said.
In the past, local officials shrugged off warnings by the EMB, arguing that it painted a bad image for the city and would hurt local tourism.
Allan Marcilla, the CENRO head, said they have taken steps to solve the problem at Queen Tuna Park, and officials of Barangay Dadiangas South need to help given that the park is under their territorial jurisdiction.
Marcilla said the watchmen have been assigned to the area to prevent people from taking the plunge there.
The barangay runs the nightly flea market which has been drawing crowds since the city’s COVID-19 alert category was lowered to the least strict level.
“The intention here is not for the closure of businesses in that place, but only to stop swimming and fishing until such time the coliform problem is addressed,” Saikol said. – Rappler.com