Water sources compromised

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014


CHOLERA. Hepatitis A. Typhoid fever.

These, according to a study conducted by the World Health Organization in the Philippines, are the most common water-borne diseases in the country.

Cholera, according to the WHO, affects 3-5 million people worldwide and causes 100,000 to 300,000 deaths a year as of 2010.

Hepatitis A claimed 102,000 individuals worldwide also in 2010.

Typhoid fever, on the other hand, is highest among children and young adults 5-19 years old. In 2010 there were about 190,000 deaths worldwide.

All these diseases are brought to light following the discovery of small scale mining activities in Camp 6, Kennon Road, and massive land development and cut trees in Mt. Sto. Tomas, Poblacion, Tuba, Benguet.

"We had to shut down the affected dam in [Camp 6] because the water there is no longer fit for human consumption," Baguio Water District Engr. Salvador Royeca said.

"This will remain closed until the quality of water is restored," he stressed.

The land development, on the other hand, is allegedly around and within the property of Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr.

"Earth and other debris were dumped above Dam 3 of the Amliang source and the two creeks/rivers leading directly to Dam 3 of the Stage 1 facility further downstream; and the several felled and lumbered pine trees have further exposed the area to more erosion which are feared to occur in the coming rainy months," said an earlier report of BWD to Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan.

"The above observations pose serious threats of continued turbidity, contamination and erosion that may ultimately damage and render the subject water sources unsafe for human consumption," BWD stressed.

The BWD station affected by turbid water supplies are Marcos Highway, Barangay QM, Upper Rock Quarry and other parts of Tuba, Benguet, among others.

In the WHO study, it said: "The quality of sources of drinking water (e.g. rivers, lakes, and groundwater) has deteriorated with indiscriminate disposal of solid wastes and inadequate wastewater treatment and disposal."

"Although there was an observed improvement in the country's water supply coverage, from 87 percent in 1990 to 91 percent in 2008, some populations shifted their preference to water refilling stations and bottle water despite the higher costs. This was due to the presence of sediments and the discoloration of the water supply after heavy rains,” the report added.

Accordingly, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in 2005, identified only 41% of 525 bodies of waters being of sufficient quality to serve as sources of drinking waters.

Meanwhile, the BWD board is mulling a case against owners of the Sto. Tomas property but is awaiting for the damage report to be submitted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources before taking further action.

This as Royeca remains unsure on when the affected water resources may be used again.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 05, 2014.

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