High fecal coliform level off Catarman, Cordova; swimming discouraged

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THE Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7) warned the public against swimming and doing similar activities within the coastal waters of Barangay Catarman, Cordova town due to high fecal coliform level.

DOH 7 Director Jaime Bernadas issued the warning Thursday, September 8, 2022, following the request of Cebu Provincial Administrator officer-in-charge Prince Lee Balaba for the issuance of a health advisory in relation to the updated inspection report submitted by the Environment and Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued on August 29 Executive Order (EO) 25, Series of 2022, which prohibits the operation and use of illegal structures, such as floating and fixed cottages, in the seawaters of the town to pave the way for the rehabilitation of the area.

During the stakeholders meeting at Cordova Sports Complex on August 17, Garcia gave the floating and fixed cottages owners in the town until August 28 to operate.

She said the seawaters off Cordova need to be rehabilitated after the fecal coliform level in the area exceeded the limit.

The pollution in the area was allegedly caused by the unregulated establishment of cottages on and along the coast.

Apart from the high levels of fecal coliform, which is beyond the maximum allowable level, Bernadas said the DOH 7 assessment team also observed that such structures have poor sewage and wastewater disposal systems, violating the existing Sanitation Code standards.

"While we caution the public from swimming in the affected coastal waters, we assure that the DOH, DENR, and the local government unit of Cordova are in prompt coordination with the operators of these structures to ensure compliance with sanitation standards and regulations," said Bernadas.

Fecal coliforms are reportedly known causes of water-borne diseases once a person accidentally drinks or ingests contaminated waters, wherein its symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach pains, and loose bowel movements.

Bernadas said a person may even be at risk for dehydration because of electrolyte loss once left untreated, which is why he urged the public who experience any of the mentioned symptoms to immediately consult with their doctor.

Meanwhile, Garcia also issued two executive orders on Thursday, September 8, concerning the illegal structures in the easement and foreshore zones in the town of Bantayan in Bantayan Island.

One of which was Executive Order 30, ordering all persons to immediately cease and desist from further constructing illegal structures within the defined easement and foreshore zones of Barangays Baigad, Sillon, Tamiao, and Atop-atop in the town.

The second one was Executive Order 31, ordering all concerned owners or claimants to demolish their abandoned, unoccupied, or obsolete illegal structures, including pigpens, toilets, and septic tanks within the defined easement and foreshore zones in the aforementioned barangays in the town of Bantayan within two weeks from September 8 or until September 22, 2022. (MKG)