Are you still getting dirty brown water from your faucet? Many residents still experience this especially when water pressure in their neighborhood has been low or following a service interruption.
The Cagayan de Oro Water District has repeatedly answered consumers’ complaints regarding this with the explanation that this only happens when the silt that would normally be dissolved when water pressure is normal gathers at the bottom of the pipes with no water to force them forward.
In fact, about once a month, all major pipelines are “flushed” by their engineering personnel to clear such sediments and silts and the cost charged towards their “non-revenue water” (NRW) account.
This is the account includes all water that has been produced and procured by the water district but did not earn revenue from, such as the fire hydrant water that some big time establishments have been observed to have been using to water the plants around their respective areas, as well as water lost to leakages from old or broken pipes and illegal connections.
Thus, when water pressure is restored it pushes all that dirt forward and that’s when you get the muddy brown water from your tap. Sure, it clears up after a few minutes of “flushing” but too bad you’ve just thrown away what should have been clean, safe drinking water that would be added to your water bill.
Now why after all these years has the water district not fixed this nuisance? That’s because it still sources a substantial volume of its daily water supply from deep wells, thus even if you don’t see it and your water appears clear, a look under a microscope shows there’s still those sediments floating around, they’re not just as visible to the naked eye.
Since water from the water districts’ 29 operating deep wells are not filtered for sediments or silt and only dosed with chlorine, expect to live with that dirty brown water from your faucets for some time to come yet. For how long? Only God knows.
It also doesn’t help that many of the water district’s pipes are old and deteriorating, which is expected given it is the country‘s oldest water district at 47 years old and even predates the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). And some of its pipes especially within the city’s urban barangays are even older, dating back to as far as 1921 when the Waterworks Tank which used to supply the city’s water started (that’s 98 years ago!).
So is there any solution to this health hazard in our drinking water? COWD is now slowly rehabilitating its old pipes mainly aimed at reducing its NRW that at last count still stood over 59%.
Filtering the water of sediments and silts has so far been left to the hapless consumer who has turned to improvised to quite expensive water purifiers to clean up the mess.
In fact, most everyone now gets their drinking water from the city’s many water refilling stations whose sole purpose is to clean up COWD’s “potable water” and resell it to consumers at a premium.
However, many consumers are probably not aware that the bulk water the COWD now gets from the Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. is filtered of all silt and sediments besides being treated with chlorine to kill all bacteria in the surface water it sources from the Bubunawan River.
Unfortunately, at this water supply provides but a fraction of the water pumped to your households by COWD and gets mixed up with the unfiltered water from COWD’s deep wells.
The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has already advised all industries and water districts abstracting water from deep wells that no new diggings will be allowed after 2030.
This is good news especially for Cagayan de Oro’s aquifers from which groundwater has been extracted beyond the capacity of nature to recharge them, resulting in the steep drop of the water table in many areas, saltwater intrusion in coastal barangays, and irreparable damage to this precious resource.
Already, Metro Manila and Cebu have disallowed not only the digging but also the operation of deep wells within their respective areas except in times of emergency, and shifted their water supply exclusively to surface water.
Should Cagayan de Oro follow suit? When you consider how studies have already proven that our aquifers were being mined for water beyond their recharge rate as far back as 17 years ago, this should have been a legislation long enacted but seems to have been forgotten.
Perhaps we shouldn’t wait any further until we are already in a water crisis like Cebu or Metro Manila to ban further water extraction from deep wells. And we sure want to get rid of that dirty water coming out of our faucets sooner rather than later.
The time to act is now.
Video Grab of Resident from Zone 1 Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro