PAOAY LAKE. A lifeguard monitors the entry and safety of visitors at the inflatable island which is one of the features of the Paoay Lake Water Park Complex in this January 31, 2022 photo. The Department of Science and Technology is offering a cost-effective technology to solve Paoay Lake’s E. coli problem. (Photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in partnership with the Ilocos Norte government and the communities around the lake, is offering a cost-effective solution for Paoay Lake’s E. coli problem.

DOST Ilocos regional director Armando Ganal said in an interview Thursday a powder called Vigormin is the low-cost solution to reduce the coliform level due to wastewater, drainage systems, and residual solid waste accumulating in the lake during surface runoff.

But instead of pouring the Vigormin powder directly to the 387-hectare lake, Ganal said this will be applied in the septic tanks of households surrounding the lake.

"Vigormin is an organo-mineral that acts to lower the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) level of wastewater,” said Ganal as he reported the department will provide around 500 kilos of the material to the Ilocos Norte government for free and enjoin the households with open-bottom septic tanks to use it.

According to Ganal, the product is now available online through e-commerce apps and can also be found in selected stores in the region.

“We are endorsing this to be used in the Paoay lake area. It is effective as we have already used it in several areas in the region,” he added.

The DOST has asked the Ilocos Norte government to conduct an inventory on the number of households that have open-bottom septic tanks around the lake as one of the immediate interventions to treat the wastewater problem.

The provincial government, meanwhile, appealed to communities around the lake not to raise livestock and graze animals around the lake with the assurance that they will be given an alternative livelihood.

The Department of Public Works and Highways will also help in the dredging activity around the body of water to help reduce sources of domestic pollution that goes to the lake.

As part of Ilocos Norte’s aggressive development and promotion of outdoor attractions in the face of a pandemic, the provincial government-funded Paoay lake waterpark with an inflatable island and a food park opened on January 31.

During the opening of the waterpark, Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc has urged visitors and the communities around the lake to do their share in ensuring its cleanliness and protection.

The Paoay Lake waterpark complex features a mix-use infrastructure development where visitors can enjoy eating, playing, biking or boating.

In compliance with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources order, the governor reminded visitors to minimize their contact with the lake while several quick and long-term interventions are being implemented to reduce water pollution.

Before the opening of the water park, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered water testing and the result showed the lake water is highly contaminated with E. coli bacteria and unfit for swimming.

E. coli bacteria are found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. (PNA)