Two areas in Panglao proved unsafe for swimming, based on the latest laboratory test results conducted by the Provincial Health Office Water Laboratory.
The joint monthly sampling conducted on April 24 by the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Provincial Health Office (PHO) group covered 10 sampling sites spanning from Dumaluan Beach in barangay Bolod up to the Muro Ami portion of barangay Doljo in Panglao.
The 10 sampling sites included Dumaluan Beach I and Dumaluan Beach II in Bolod; Amorita Cliff, Alona Tropical (fronting restaurant), and Alona Kew in Tawala; Lost Horizon, Bohol Divers Resort, and Linaw Beach Resort in barangay Danao; and Bellevue and Muro Ami Beach Resort in Doljo.
Of the 10 sites, Amorita Cliff and Lost Horizon failed in the bacteriology examination.
The report signed by Engr. Arsenio Torrejos, in-charge for the PHO Septage Laboratory, and noted by Provincial Health Officer Reymoses Cabagnot, was submitted to Gov. Edgar Chatto.
Torrejos explained that they tested the areas on two parameters- -total coliform and fecal coliform.
The samples were collected early in the morning on testing date, which he said is the best time to collect water samples.
In the PHO water laboratory standard, the limit for total coliform is 1,000 mpn (most probable number) per 100ml of the sample and 100mpn/100 ml of the sample for fecal coliform.
He explained that mpn is the unit used in microbiological analysis, considering the microscopic size of bacteria.
Torrejos said that the PHO result shows that the Amorita area passed the total coliform test with only 172 mpn/100ml.
However, it failed in the fecal coliform test, having 109mpn/100ml.
He explained that their medical technologist would mark as “failed” one of the two parameters is not met for safety.
Torrejos also noted that in the first sampling that they did, the total coliform test on Alona Tropical area, fronting the restaurant, showed 2,000mpn/100ml.
However, at that time, they could not pinpoint as to the exact contributory to the contamination, considering the Amorita nearby, the Alona Tropical and Hennan, in addition to the pumpboats in the vicinity.
For Lost Horizon area, Torrejos said the samples passed the total coliform test, but failed in the fecal coliform test.
He explained though that if there is difference between the result from the PHO and that from the EMB-7, it is the EMB-7 result that prevails.
He said the PHO sampling is just for counterchecking purposes.
In the future we would like to get accreditation
Torrejos also explained that the PHO water laboratory is accredited to test fresh water quality for drinking water in Bohol and not for testing seawaters. But just to come up with a parallel testing, the PHO initiated to undertake tests on the seawaters of Panglao.
The PHO laboratory is accredited by the Philippine National Water Standard though. But they plan to get an accreditation from the national standard for seawater sampling.
Provincial health consultant, Dr. Yul Lopez, however, explained that what had been released on Friday was the laboratory results from the PHO water laboratory and the EMB-7 group, under Regional Director William Cuñado is still have to release theirs soon.
While the EMB-7 report carries the official result, the PHO report is the unofficial report, although the water samples were collected simultaneously by the two groups on the same time from each site.
Yet, it may be possible that their results may differ from that of the EMB’s, Lopez added.
Upon instruction of Gov. Edgar Chatto, the PHO regularly conducts the water sampling in Panglao to ensure public health.
This is considering that Panglao has the highest potential of attracting the spillover of prospective visitors from tourist destinations in the country that had been closed.
The 10 sites have been pre-identified as the subjects of the monthly water quality monitoring through laboratory tests on samples taken from these areas.
It is conducted in close coordination with EMB-7 laboratory in Cebu, as PHO’s parallel testing.
“For purposes of validity, the official laboratory- -following national standard- -is the DENR-EMB laboratory, and our PHO result is an unofficial laboratory result. The EMB-7 result was already ready, but it still has to be transmitted. The EMB-7 result is better since it shows that all the 10 sites passed the test and it is only in the PHO finding that the two sites failed,” Lopez explained.
Lopez added that once the report is out, they immediately relay it to the media for information and guidance of the public.
After the first report on the water sampling in Panglao last Friday, Lopez assured to furnish the media monthly results of the subsequent monitoring.
Lopez also said that the trend as relayed by EMB-7, “is very encouraging” since the quality of Panglao seawaters have been improving as the fecal or coliform content in the area have been decreasing.