Oro’s drinking water ‘maybe contaminated’

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BELIEVING that Cagayan de Oro City’s potable water supply may be contaminated, a former environment department official has urged Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) to extend its parameters to detect toxic residues in its water source.

Raoul Geollegue, former regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Northern Mindanao, cited that the graphic documentation of his group shows that the water in the junction of Lapinigan creek and Bubunawan River is murky.

Geollegue is a technical team leader of the Enterprise Works Worldwide Philippines.


Based on the website ph.geoview.info, Lapinigan Creek is one of the streams located near a pineapple plantation in Bukidnon province and that rainfall water near the plantation will flow into the Lapinigan Creek.

“Pineapple plantations are dependent on chemicals, and since the water is murky it can contain toxic chemicals,” said Geollegue.

Ralph Abragan, chair of the group Save Cagayan de Oro Movement (Save CDO), said Lapinigan creek contributes water to the Bubunawan River.

“Rio Verde which supplies water for COWD is sourcing water from the Bubunawan River that receives water from Lapinigan Creek,” said Abragan expressing his concern on the possibility of contamination.

Abragan’s group worries on the chemical content in Lapinigan Creek that is passed on the Bubunawan River in which Rio Verde gets its water supply.

He added that the water supply in the city comes from the upstream—from the rivers surrounded by different pineapple and banana plantations that possibly could pollute the water with chemicals.

No capacity to detect

In a text message, Abragan said agri-chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and nematicide cannot be detected by the equipment used by the Rio Verde Water Consortium, Inc.

Abragan added that Rio Verde admitted it lacks the facilities to detect such chemicals in the river water.

During a dialogue between Save CDO and COWD on Tuesday, Rachel Beja, the general manager of COWD, asked the group to present documents to prove its claims.

Abragan said his group will forward them the soonest time possible.

An article posted on the Capitol University website stated that 10 percent of the 1.5 million cubic meters per day that is discharged by the Bubunawan River flows through the Rio Verde Consortium Plant.

Based on a document posted on a website of Food and Drug Administration Philippines, the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water (PNSDW) set the standard values for organic and inorganic chemical constituents that have significance on health.

PNSDW set the maximum level of inorganic chemicals such as lead (1.01 mg/L), mercury (0.001 mg/L) and cyanide (0.07 mg/L) among others.

The PNSWD also set the maximum level of organic chemicals and organic pesticides including the registered and banned pesticides.

Beja assured the COWD monitors the water supply from Rio Verde.

Although they do not have facilities to detect all types of chemicals but the COWD follows the prescribed guidelines of the PNSWD and submits the results to the government agencies in-charge.

“We do physical and chemical analysis twice a year. And we conduct bacteriological analysis on a daily basis,” said Beja.

She added that they take samples from takeoff points in barangay Lumbia and other strategic points that could reach up to 100 sampling points.

Although she does not know about all the elements, Beja disclosed COWD spent hundreds of thousands for the water analysis.

“All parameters based on the PNSWD were tested,” said Beja adding that the water samples were taken to Cebu for analysis.

Beja also assured if there are other parameters (chemicals to be tested that could be in the water) then COWD is open to discuss and add new parameters to the standards for potable water.

“I hope there is none,” said Beja.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 15, 2014.

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