Mayor Cesar “Didoy” Suan told SunStar Cebu Thursday, March 2, 2023, that he had already lifted the ban on swimming in the seawaters off the town after the most recent water quality check showed a significant drop in their fecal coliform level.
Suan said the water quality check conducted by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed that the fecal coliform level in the seawaters off the town, particularly in Poblacion and Catarman, had gone down to 0.8 most probable number (mpn) per 100 milliliters.
This is way below the result in August 2022 when the coliform level in the vicinity of the town’s floating and fixed cottages was 2,400 mpn per 100 milliliters, which was blamed on the inability of these cottages to manage septic waste.
The standard coliform level for coastal waters to consider them safe for swimming and similar recreational activities is 100 mpn per 100 milliliters, according to the DENR.
“That’s why we are now allowing it, but still no cottages as of this time. Swimming only,” Suan said in Cebuano.
“And we prohibit the bringing of food so they don’t just throw their waste anywhere,” he added, saying food is allowed only near the roads.
The mayor said the most recent water quality check result was released about two to three weeks ago but that he did not announce the lifting of the swimming ban then.
He said this was to avoid the flocking to Cordova of beachgoers from other towns and cities, as he feared that they could not control them.
“Anyone can swim, but when we start working on the public beach, the swimming might have to stop,” he said, adding that they are hoping to start the construction of the public beach next month.
Meanwhile, Suan said they will do their best to transfer all the vendors operating in their interim market in Barangay Catarman to the new market in Barangay Poblacion, which is expected to be completed this June.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia earlier cited the interim public market as one of the contributors to the pollution of the seawaters apart from the cottages.
Suan said floating cottages are still not allowed in the seawaters as they wait for the results of the design competition initiated by Garcia for the master plan of the cottages that will cover aesthetics and hygiene.
He said organizers of the international competition are still crafting the rules, adding that the competition is expected to begin this month, with awarding likely happening in May.
On Sept. 21, 2022, Garcia issued Executive Order 36 ordering the demolition or removal of illegal structures, such as floating and fixed cottages within the coastal waters of the Municipality of Cordova, after SunStar Cebu’s special report revealed the illegal practice of throwing septic waste into the ocean by some of Cordova’s floating cottage operators.
Earlier, Garcia had already ordered operators of Cordova’s floating and fixed cottages to temporarily stop their operations by Aug. 29, 2022 to facilitate the rehabilitation of Cordova’s coast that was found to have been heavily affected by pollution allegedly caused by the unregulated establishment of such cottages.