The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has committed to focus its efforts toward the improvement of the Manila Bay's water quality before reopening the Dolomite Beach along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

"We will focus on cleaning the waters of Manila Bay so that the public not only can visit the Dolomite Beach but also bathe and swim in the near future," DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones said in a recent press conference.

Leones said the DENR-led Manila Bay Task Force (MBTF) will work out a plan for the drainage system of Manila Baywalk’s outfalls in Padre Faura, Remedios, and Abad.

He noted that the wastewater originating from houses and industries will be diverted to the sewage treatment plant, while floodwater will be coursed through a huge HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipe that is 400 meters long from the sea wall.

"We will also work out on the outfall near the Dolomite Beach Rock Garden where there’s a high fecal coliform level according to our Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region (EMB-NCR)," Leones said.

"All of these activities will be completed this year or in the first quarter of 2022 considering possible changes on the alert level status of the NCR," he added.

DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan cited that as of October 25, the Dolomite Beach area has a coliform level of 22,000 mpn per 100 milliliters (MPN/100 mL).

Caancan pointed out that improving the water quality and maintaining it to a low fecal coliform has been a "challenging" task.

Leones added that the water quality in the dolomite area needs to be addressed immediately to achieve the standard level of 100 MPN/100 ml to make it "swimmable."

However, he cited significant improvements in the coliform level, which now only ranges from hundreds to thousands as compared to millions or billions prior to the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

During the press conference, the DENR announced that the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach will remain closed to the public as the MBTF will commence the second phase of the project and continue the Manila Bay rehabilitation.

While closed, the MBTF will be coming up with guidelines to those who would like to take pictures outside the beach area to prevent possible overcrowding.

Moreover, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is undergoing minor repairs in the footbridge leading to the beach area to further maintain its structural integrity and ensure the safety of the public.

The Phase 2 of the Dolomite project will start soon and is targeted to be finished within the year.

It includes installing geo-engineering structures such as geotubes to cover 360 meters of beach area and the overlay of dolomite sand and pebbles to complete the 500 meters area of the beach.

Other plans include the construction of a beach and fishing area near the Manila Yacht Club to serve as swimming and playground for children.

The establishment of two solar-powered comfort rooms, mandamus office, souvenir hub, and lighting and landscaping works along the Manila Baywalk are also targeted to be completed this year.

"We’ll do our best to finish these within the year before the holiday season,” said DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

Antiporda added: “Let’s see how our situation will progress since we are in a fragile situation due to the pandemic. But with the decreasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country, we are optimistic that we can reopen within the year.”

Meanwhile, rehabilitation works are also being addressed in Baseco, Tondo as well as in the provinces of Cavite, Pampanga and Laguna areas of Manila Bay. ###