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Tagbilaran City Water Problem

Mirror Column
Bohol Sunday Post

       When men live together, water is always a problem. First is the availability of safe water supply for drinking and sanitation purposes. The second is the disposal of unwanted water. The problem is negligible when one lives in villages but when one resides in urban areas the situation becomes not only apparent but also intolerable. The problem is directly proportional to the number of men living together.

       To address these problems two water systems are installed, one to produce and convey portable water and the other to lead wastewaters away from dwelling centers. However, waste waters are of two categories, one is moisture produced by precipitation and the other produced by human usage. The former may be conveyed to esteros or direct to the sea through storm drains but the latter must be coursed through treatment tanks before it is allowed to be conveyed to the sea.

       Private companies or government owned or controlled corporations, GOOC, may supply potable water but it must be the government, which is responsible for the disposal of unwanted water. In Manila, years ago, potable water was supplied by the National Waterworks and Sewerage authority, a GOOC. The Nawasa also constructed sewage lines and treatment tanks while the city government constructed and maintained the drainage system.

       Here in Tagbilaran City, the Bohol Waterworks Utilities Incorporated – if we interpret their acronym right – supplies the potable water needs of the City. But it seems they are only as far as supplying potable water. There may be a sewerage system but this is no longer responsive to a fast growing metropolis. Then a private contractor, Hanjin, a Korean corporation constructing the Tagbilaran drainage as a phase in the Bohol Circumferential Road Project 2, built a drainage line along the Carlos p Garcia Avenue. This complicated the Tagbilaran drainage problem,

       Reports came out that establishments and residences along the CPG Avenue were allowed to discharge their sewage water into the newly built CPG storm drain. This is not only dangerous in case of water born disease epidemics but also illegal. Then there are reports that some low lying areas of the city are flooded when a provincial official plugged the newly constructed drainage to the sea to prevent sewage water, which had now mixed with drainage water from flowing into Tagbilaran bay.

       As the problem arose fingers are pointing to all directions except the right one. It will depend on the whether Tagbilaran is a component or highly urbanized city. If it is a component city, then it will still be under the supervision of the province. But if it is a latter, then the city has a direct responsibility over the drainage problem.

       Since Hanjin is constructing the provincial circumferential road, the storm drain they have laid down is in the main thoroughfare. Until the project is turned over to the province, the Department of Public Works and Highways has no authority over it. This leaves Celestino Adlaon of the DPWH First District off the hook. However, since the tapping of drainage pipes were in the city, this is under the jurisdiction of the Tagbilaran City Engineer.

       We do not know how it is done here, but in Manila, when an establishment or a residence wants their wash water to flow into the drainage pipe, they have to secure a permit from the Office of the City Engineer. The representative of the City Engineer, usually a foreman in the Drainage Section inspects the proposed drainage to make sure that what flows is not sewage or water from they toilet. Satisfied that it is not, a construction plan is drawn and given along with the permit. Illegal connections are heavily fine.

       Assuming that Tagbilaran is just a component city, the province, which has jurisdiction over the finished project, will have the last say. They can refuse acceptance by the time it is turned over until illegal connections are removed. But until it is turned over, the project will still be the responsibility of Hanjin.      

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