■ Jane B. Cadalig
Operators of private deepwells and bulk water delivery trucks were told to form their respective organizations and help the city government in its ongoing efforts to ensure public health.
Baguio officials made the call to operators of private deepwells and those engaged in the bulk water delivery services in last week’s consultation that aimed to gather inputs from those engaged in the water business.
City Health Services Office-Sanitation Division Sanitary Inspector Robert Colewan emphasized the need for those engaged in bulk water services to form their respective associations and convince others to legitimize their operations.
This will help the city government ensure public health and safety following the recent diarrhea outbreak that was traced to contaminated water sourced from private deepwells.
During the consultation that included operators of purified and mineral water facilities, Colewan said a lot of their headaches are caused by those engaged in raw water delivery services sourced from deepwells.
He said one of the problems they encounter are operators of deepwells that claim they are only using the water for their own consumption and those that say they only supply their water for construction purposes.
“But during our rounds, we see a lot of delivery trucks lining up in these deepwells and supplying the water to the neighboring households. This is why when samples tested positive for coliform, all the deepwells were affected by the closure,” Colewan said.
Another concern among the bulk water service providers that makes inspection challenging is that not all those engaged in bulk water delivery are deepwell operators and distributors at the same time.
Monitoring is easier for those who operate their own deepwells and deliver the water at the same time.
Monitoring becomes challenging for those who operate deepwells only and have no delivery trucks and for those who only have trucks and source their water usually from various deepwells.
Having chlorinated deepwells is not also a guarantee for safe water because there are instances when the sources are not contaminated but the trucks used to deliver are not sanitized.
Colewan said inspection must be strengthened and sampling must now be done on both the water from the source and the water in the delivery trucks.
He said it’s high time those engaged in raw water delivery organized themselves to protect their business and to help ensure public health and safety.
He added there are several raw water delivery trucks and deep wells that are operating without permits.
Permits and Licensing Division Chief Allan Abayao said based on their records, only 39 businesses were issued with permits to engage in bulk water delivery services.
For the purified and mineral water refilling stations, around 186 were issued permits.
CHSO Sanitation Division Chief Charles Carame said they are willing to help those engaged in bulk water delivery comply with the requirements and legitimize their operations, which is why they are asking that these groups organize themselves so that it will be easier to convene them.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong told the participants in the forum that the steps being undertaken by the city government are not meant to restrict but to help those engaged in the water business.
“Let us help each other. We are not being strict to destroy your business, but to make it more credible,” he said.
The consultation is part of the city government’s efforts to gather inputs as it works on the passage of the safe water ordinance.
The Baguio Association of Purified and Mineral Water Refillers has assured its support to the city government’s efforts in ensuring the safety of water sold and delivered to households. – Jane B. Cadalig