By Francis Allan L. Angelo
Iloilo City’s water distributor assured that its water is safe from contamination amid rising cases of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) and cholera.
In a statement, Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) said it “has proactively conducted bacteriological tests immediately in the affected communities within its business areas.”
“All results returned negative of any bacteriological contaminations. We have assured our customers within the affected areas reported by Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) outbreak that the water we distribute through our service lines is safe and has passed the daily water quality monitoring tests conducted in collaboration with the Iloilo City Sanitary Officers, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), and representatives from the affected barangays,” MPIW Chief Operating Officer Robert Cabiles said.
But Cabiles said they are not taking chances as they initiated the following steps to ensure the safety of its water supply and the customers:
-double-checking and conducting of thorough leak investigations and assessments on distribution pipelines.
-conduct of leakage detection and assessment in the service lines of customers.
-regular flushing on all distribution lines within the affected areas.
-and continuous water quality monitoring tests.
“The water we distribute in our system underwent and has passed the required water treatment process within the standards of the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water (PNSDW) of the Department of Health (DOH). Metro Pacific Iloilo Water has been receiving a 100% compliance rating in PNSDW since the start of its operation in 2019,” Cabiles added.
PNSDW is the guidelines and standards of drinking water quality, testing, and distribution implemented by the Department of Health.
Right after the AGE and cholera outbreak in the city last month, the Iloilo City Health conducted bacterial tests and water sample analyses of different samples after monitoring high cases of AGE in some barangays in the city.
Based on the bacterial tests and water sample analyses conducted by the ICHO on 32 refilling stations in the city, four were positive for E. coli and coliform bacteria, while 14 were positive for coliform bacteria only.
Out of the 56 deep and tube wells that were tested, 39 were positive for E. coli and coliform bacteria, while 15 were positive for coliform bacteria only.
Most of the contaminated wells and refilling stations were located in barangays with clustering of AGE and cholera cases such as Rizal Pala-Pala II, Maria Clara, Esperanza, Rizal Ibarra, Tanza Timawa II in City Proper district, and Taal in Molo.
As of Sept 1, 2022, nine water refilling stations were closed by the Iloilo City Government as they failed to pass the Water Quality Test, including one that used to supply drinking water for the Mayor’s Office.
Apart from the wells and refilling stations, the CHO identified the likely sources of contaminated water:
-un-sanitized water storage;
-water was drawn from service pipes using manual hand pumps and electric pumps (pumping stations);
-water and food handling practices;
-the lifestyle of the residents; and
-foods and water that are bought on the streets;
As regards MPIW’s supply, the CHO issued a certificate of water potability to MPIW certifying that the water it distributes within the city passed water quality standards set by the municipal and city health office.
Most coliform bacteria are not harmful however, some can make people sick if they have been exposed to these bacteria, and may experience upset stomach, vomiting, fever, or diarrhea.
On the other hand, E. coli or Escherichia coli bacteria in the water is a strong indication of sewage or animal waste contamination and drinking water with these wastes can cause short-term illnesses, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and headaches.
AGE symptoms include watery diarrhea; nausea, vomiting, or both; stomach cramps and pain; occasional muscle aches or headaches; and low-grade fever.
While cholera, an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine can have these symptoms: profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, thirst, leg cramps, restlessness or irritability, rapid heart rate, and low blood pressure.
MPIW said it teamed up and extended assistance to the City Mayor’s Office, City Engineering Office, City Health Office, and CDRRMO to respond to and manage the rising cases of AGE and cholera in the City.
It provided technical support to the city through daily water sampling and testing on possible sources of bacteria (refilling stations, wells, bath houses, residential service lines) in the affected areas
“In collaboration with Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD), our joint venture partner, we have deployed static water tanks with potable water for residents in the affected areas. MPIW will be supplying free water to affected communities within its business areas for a whole month.”
MPIW is also helping customers within the affected areas by investigating their service lines even if the upkeep of the service lines is the customer’s responsibility and should be checked regularly by a private plumber of their choice.
“We have started investigation and coordination with leaders in affected barangays that are not yet connected to MPIW services for the preparation and fast tract service line connections within their areas.”
MPIW is a joint venture company between MIWD (a government-owned and controlled corporation) and Metro Pacific Water (the lead investor for all water and wastewater infrastructure projects of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. or MPIC outside Metro Manila and across Asia).