Water quality monitoring committees in R-12 pushed

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 March) — The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 is pushing for the establishment of local drinking water quality monitoring committees in all local government units in the region, to ensure the safety of potable water supply.

In a resolution, the RDC-12 enjoined all four provinces, five cities and 45 municipalities in the region to organize their respective local drinking water quality monitoring committees to properly address problems on water contamination and the emergence of various water-borne diseases in parts of the region in the last several years.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“Access to safe drinking water is considered as a basic human right and, therefore, water supply must be ensured to be free from contamination and other chemical and physical hazards to prevent the occurrence of water-borne diseases or illnesses,” the council said.

City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, RDC-12 chairperson, said the proposed committees will be tasked to regularly monitor the quality of drinking water provided by local water districts, water refilling stations and other mobile water tankers.

She said they would also handle the monitoring and assessment of other alternative potable water resources being used by local communities.

The mayor cited that the implementing rules and regulations of Chapter II, Section 3.5 of the Sanitation Code of the Philippines and Safe Drinking Water Guidelines provides that local health authorities should implement a water surveillance program through the creation of the local drinking water quality monitoring committees.

It mandates the committee to oversee the operations and monitor the quality of drinking water produced by local water systems, she said.

But the mayor said there were no functional local water regulatory committees in the region so far that monitor the operations of local water systems and other suppliers of drinking water.

Custodio said some residents also lack access to potable water supply, rendering them highly prone to water-borne diseases that remain among the leading causes of illnesses and deaths in the region.

“The people’s susceptibility to water-borne diseases may also be due to the contamination of water supply resulting from a failure to regularly monitor the quality of water at source and the water purifying processes,” she said.

Owing to this, Custodio said the regional inter-agency committee on health in Region 12 pushed for the need to create a local quality monitoring committee for drinking water in all municipalities, cities and provinces of the region.

Such move sought to ensure that drinking water in the region will conform to the 1998 Philippine national drinking standards, she said.

She added the RDC’s regional social development committee endorsed such recommendation to the council for immediate action. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)