■ Jane B. Cadalig
Stakeholders of the water industry in Baguio temporarily shifted their attention from making sure there is enough water supply to assuring the public their supply is safe, amidst the recent outbreak of diarrhea that was traced to contamination.
For the Baguio Water District (BWD), General Manager Salvador Royeca said the water distributed by the utility is potable, as long as this is drunk from BWD’s main lines and not from secondary storage facilities like household tanks.
Royeca led other officials in drinking water from the utility’s lines to allay public fear, brought about by the diarrhea outbreak that hit the city, but was lifted on Jan. 18.
Royeca has assured that BWD’s water is fit for human consumption and can be drunk from the tap because the water distribution utility is strictly complying with sanitation standards and regulations.
The water utility called for a press conference last week to dispel the misinformation that some of the reported cases of diarrhea were traced to the water supplied by BWD.
Samples taken from BWD sources and its distribution lines were cleared of contamination based on a micro bacterial laboratory examination on Jan. 9.
When the City Health Services Office reported a client mentioned they were supplied by BWD, Royeca said they conducted an investigation which later disclosed that the concerned household was also getting its water supply from a spring and was not solely being supplied by BWD.
He said BWD is investing heavily in its sanitation process to ensure the potability of water that is distributed to the more than 48,000 household connections in the city.
Aside from the daily chlorine residual reading, Royeca said BWD subjects its water to monthly bacteriological examination and yearly chemical analysis.
“We do this in our laboratory and we send the results to the Local Water Utilities Administration for them to validate,” he said.
From open sources like the catchment basins, BWD subjects the water to an aeration process, microfiltration, and chlorination to remove water impurities.
The group of drinking water refilling stations also assured that its members adhere to sanitation standards.
Baguio Association of Purified and Mineral Water Refillers President Nellie Olairez told members of the city council the group is willing to assist the city government in ensuring that the public is consuming safe water.
She said whether or not there is a health concern traced to the supply by purified and mineral water refillers, they are willing to help city officials craft policies to ensure public safety.
For SM City Baguio, whose tenant has been pinpointed to have been the source of contaminated water that affected some customers, Regional Operations Manager Rona Correa said they have complied with the orders from the city government to address the concern.
She said the mall has also cleaned its cistern, which is being supplied by BWD and private bulk water service providers to ensure the safety of water supplied to their tenants.
SM also subjects the water in its cistern to chlorination before this is distributed to the tenants.
She assured the cistern and the storage facilities of water used for flushing and landscaping are located in separate areas within the mall, allaying concerns of possible contamination due to pipe leakage.