Arceo: Not ‘prime’

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the adjective “prime” means - a) first in rank, authority, or significance; b) having the highest quality; and c) of the highest grade regularly marketed.

But PrimeWater Angeles City is not even close to these definitions. In the series of joint committee hearings conducted by the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Public Utilities and Committee on Engineering and Public Works last month, PrimeWater was put on a hot seat due to their poor services. Local officials from 22 barangays who attended the hearings complained of inadequate water supply, low water pressure and dirty water.

Councilor Jay Sangil, chair of the SP Committee on Engineering and Public Works, said PrimeWater took over the management of the Angeles CIty Water District (ACWD) 18 months ago. This is through a joint venture agreement with ACWD. During the hearings, PrimeWater officials claimed that there is enough supply of water although the rationing and low pressure is due to engineering works they have been doing like replacement of pipes and repairs of leakages.

But Sangil argues that 18 months is long enough to do rehabilitation of old pipes. It only takes two to three months to restore the old pipes, he says.

So what is the real problem? PrimeWater is supposed to have done its homework before it took over the operations and management of ACWD. There is what they call “due diligence”. It is a process of

“an investigation, audit, or review performed to confirm facts or details of a matter under consideration.” So PrimeWater would have known beforehand how to do the rehabilitation and expansion of ACWD facilities and services. They invested in ACWD and they know they will earn from the investment.

But what’s puzzling to Angelenos is the fact that in 18 months after PrimeWater took over ACWD, the services deteriorated from bad to worse. There are also no expansions. Only alibis and excuses.

In their July 2, 2022 Facebook post, PrimeWater said :


We apologize for the inconvenience. The low pressure to no water was caused by electric service interruptions in large parts of the city that affected our Pumping Stations. The affected facilities are currently being checked to restore water service in your area.

Building up of water pressures takes 2-3 hours. If water discoloration occurs after the resumption of service, let the water flow out from faucets until it clears.

PrimeWater was blaming power interruptions but during the June 7 and 14, 2022 hearings, it was revealed that they were closing some of their water booster pumps during night time and this causes low supply of water during mornings in several areas of the city.

Each household in the city pays a minimum charge every month with or without water flowing in their pipelines. This means that if PrimeWater closes its booster pumps on certain hours of the day, it can save power and money in due time - but at the expense of the people of Angelenos who are being deprived of 24/7 supply of water.

The city council also found out that some of the pumps used by ACWD and PrimeWater do not have the necessary permits, both from the local government and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB). The council also asked PrimeWater to produce the documents they have been requesting like financial statements, expansion programs and water development plans. The company was given until June 30.

So far none of these documents were already produced. The poor service is still at its worst. The quality of water that PrimeWater delivers today is still below quality. They admitted that they conduct water quality testing only twice a year and for 2022, they have not done any testing yet. How dense can you get?

PrimeWater claims to be a professional and highly acclaimed water company owned by Senator Cynthia Villar and her husband, former Senator Manny Villar. They have taken over some 100 water utility districts in the country and maybe lobbying for more.

The company should be helping people by providing better services and bringing down the cost of water. The people of Angeles deserve better. So kudos to Councilor Sangil and the rest of the members of the city council for investigating this matter. The expansion and development promised by the Villars must be realized or else, the local government must fully step in.

It would also be ideal for the City to demand a clear water security plan or reforestation program from ACWD and PrimeWater. So far, they have not planted a single tree in 18 months. They are serving 60,000 households or about 300,000 individuals in the city. They have been pumping water from the ground, so it is only necessary that PrimeWater allot some funds for reforestation. Hoy gising!


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