Placer folk complain of ‘different taste’ of potable water; officials say it’s still safe

PLACER, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/16 December) – Residents have complained of a change in the quality of their potable water supply since late last month and some even claimed to have suffered diarrhea, but local officials dismissed the claim and maintained that water in this town has remained safe for human consumption.

Nonetheless, Placer mayor Filemon Napuli Jr., said they were investigating the complaint and had sent water samples from different sources to a laboratory in Davao City for testing.

Napuli said the findings will be known after two weeks and made public.

“Every day we are discussing it with the manager of the Placer Water District to find solutions to it,” he told reporters.

He said the water is still safe to drink despite the change in quality. He added that he and Andro Michael C. Bugas, the manager of the local water district, drank it and found no problems except for the changed taste.

The mayor dismissed claims many people suffered diarrhea from late November to early December saying there was no such report from the Municipal Health office.

Dr. Chuckie O. Trugillo, municipal health officer told MindaNews Tuesday a few people had suffered diarrhea but said he could not point to the town’s potable water supply as the cause.

He said they have sent water samples to different laboratories.

At the Surigao del Norte Provincial Hospital in Bad-as, Placer, Dr. Cosnarie E. Seguis, chief of clinics said there were three patients from Placer town who suffered diarrhea. But she could not say what caused it.

She said most of the patients who suffered diarrhea came from the towns of Claver, Gigaquit, Bacuag and Mainit.

Jerry Raro, Municipal Health Sanitary Inspector said that early this month they conducted water sampling at their sources of potable water in Barangays Anislagan and Cagaasan.

He said the source in Anislagan was found negative but the source in Caga-asan was found to have coliform, according to the bacteriology water result at Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City.

But Raro stressed that water from these sources would undergo treatment before it reaches the consumers.

Rotche S. Lucino, a resident of Barangay Poblacion said she would not drink water supplied by the local water utility saying the taste was undesirable.

“Bahog patay nga ilaga ug lad-ang,” (It smells like there is rotten rat, the taste is bad) she said.

Niel D. Duhaylungsod, also a resident of Barangay Amoslog said the water now tasted different, adding he didn’t want to drink it after news of people getting sick allegedly because of it reached him.

Anxious residents are now getting their drinking water from purified water stations in the town.

But others who couldn’t afford to buy purified water prefer to filtrate and boil the water from their faucets. One of them was Jun Platil of Poblacion, who said he would sterilize his water “to make sure”.

Residents could not tell why the quality of their potable water has changed, a fact admitted by the Placer Water District which services 2,600 households.

In a statement dated Dec. 12, the water utility said the change was noted in the supply coming from the Cagaasan spring in Macalaya-Boyongan.

“Until now the management has no information on the changes of water quality. The management since November 18 until today is currently taking samples almost every day to bring safe water to water consumers,” it said.

It also said that based on the water analysis there was neither bacteria nor heavy metals on the water.

“The Physical-Chemical Testing results showed that there is a change in total dissolved solids and chlorides which cause the chance in taste,” it said.

Based on the Philippine National Standard Drinking Water, this result is safe for human consumption.

“Dili kini sama sa toxic or poisonous, dili sama sa heavy metals sama sa mercury, lead, arsenic, cyanide, etc. nga makamatay,” the statement further said. “We asked everyone to remain calm and not be panic.” (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)