Sanchez: Service water

WHEN I eat out with friends, relatives, and brothers and sisters in Christ of the Light of Jesus Family, I seldom drink soda pop or even bottled water.

I drink service water — the freebie tap water that the Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa) provides restaurants.

When my health still allowed me to hike up the mountains of the Northern Negros Natural Park and Mt. Kanlaon, I always bring with me chlorine-based halazone tablets to make sure I have a steady supply of potable water in my canteen.

Now that I’m more urban-based, I stopped using these tablets. From a deep-well, I invested my hard-earn income to connect with Baciwa.

However, I was swayed into buying bottled water when at home. Wrong choice, it seems. The British online newspaper Independent said global consumers invest for bottled water – at the cost of almost $100 billion a year.

Is spending an arm and a leg for bottled water worth it? The online newspaper says that for many Americans (and elsewhere), a glass from the tap and a glass from the bottle are virtually identical in terms of health and nutritional quality.

In some cases, publicly-sourced tap may actually be safer since it is usually tested more frequently. Can we say the same thing for Baciwa? My glass of service water probably indicates I have no health issue with tap water.

It's not cheap. At an average cost of $1.22 per four liters, consumers spend 300 times more on bottled water than we'd spend to drink from the tap. Soda companies are aware of how lucrative bottled water can be – corporations from Coca-Cola to PepsiCo have been investing in bottled water.

That might be the case in the US. Water samples, however, from Metro Manila, Bulacan, and Laguna seem to bear this out. In 2009, they tested positive for trihalomethanes (THM) and traces of the chlorinated solvents trichloroethene (TCE), a carcinogen and dichloropropene, both industrial chemicals. These contaminants, when released into the environment, remain there and enter the food chain.

Yet Greenpeace, an international environmentalist group, said bottled water purchased in Metro Manila contained higher than usual levels of zinc and traces of the more unusual contaminant bis (chlorophenyl) sulfone.

So how safe is our drinking water here in Bacolod? Can Baciwa clarify its service water to its consumers?

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