Legazpi City, Albay — Still aching from the unabated electric power serrvice interruptions courtesy of Albay Power energy corporation, the residents of this city are also beset with another problem. Consumers within the service area of Legazpi City water district (LCWD) face the probability of a fresh round of rate increase this month.
The ironic part is that LCWD supplies water allegedly far from being potable.
During a public hearing conducted on June 20 several consumers present in the meeting, however, brought with them plastic bottles filled with dirty, chocolate-colored water content allegedly sourced from their home faucets.
But the LCWD officials belittled the complaints of the consumers, instead, justified the proposed increase as necessary to carry out its various projects even acknowledging that the water coming out of the faucets of the 20,000 water consumers is already potable.
It must be recalled that the University of the Philippines-Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI) has ruled three times since 2011 that LCWD’s water is not potable for drinking.
The dirty water issue started after the LCWD contracted Phil-Hydro Corp. as its bulk water supplier in 2008.
The contract provides that Phil-Hydro will supply 20,000 cu. m. of potable water, which the LCWD has to pay whether it consumes the 20,000 cu. m. or not.
Phil-Hydro, which had a paid-up capitalization of about P55,000 during the contract signing, was expected to earn billions of pesos in a 25-year contract period.
It boasted of a mineral-type of water to be supplied to Legazpi City consumers.
In 2011, with the LCWD failing to show the promised mineral-type water, the city council, sought an investigation of the LCWD-Phil-Hydro contract as angry consumers complained of being cheated.
The investigation confirmed thru laboratory results, the LCWD-Phil-Hydro water was not potable for drinking. This was later confirmed by a laboratory test result from UP-NSRI.
In 2012, Maynilad water acquired ownership of the Phil-Hydro but amid its Php 90-million fund infusion for rehabilitation and improvement projects, the UP-NSRI laboratory result showed dirty water supply with the Total Solid Hardness remaining above the normal level, said Mayor Noel Rosal.
Rosal added that Legazpi water is not even fit for cooking, bathing and laundrying.
The Phil-Hydro reportedly was forced to sell out after the city government would not issue business and building permits.
There was not yet even operational clearance from the DOH and an environmental clearance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Consumers equally blamed local government officials and the DOH for their seeming glaring negligence on why water, which is the prime concern of authorities, was ignored for years without any action shown until one Legazpi resident complained to Malacañang. (from PNA report by Manilyn Ugalde)