THE FIRST course of action of BACIWA to deliver the promised water by July (now somebody in BACIWA says it’s August) is to dig six more wells. This is not news actually because BACIWA said so before – that if Bacolod Bulk Water Inc. will be delayed or could not produce the water, BACIWA will just dig wells.
I wrote about this before and pointed out that BACIWA will need an Environment Clearance Certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In fact, I also wrote that most of the wells of BACIWA have no ECC and that the DENR had already given it Notice of Violations.
Now BACIWA will dig some more but so far it has not presented an ECC and the Bacolod Sanggunian is not aware that it has filed any request for it.
If BACIWA will dig these wells without permit, then something is terribly wrong in that water company, the DENR and the SP. That they can ignore this requirement of law speaks plenty of the state of affairs in these agencies. Either they are ignorant, remiss or even corrupted.
Digging more wells is expensive not only for the digging itself but its operation. Information says that BACIWA does not have a generator to keep the wells working in case there is power outage by CENECO which is not a surprise.
What is not a surprise is the winner of the bidding to provide these wells. Since BACIWA manager Mario Macatangay came into office, the winner in the digging of wells is only Rotadrill. This time, for the six wells, Rotadrill is the winner with another bidder.
In the end Rotadrill will win because Macatangay has already said the other winner, Sinian, will be subjected to post qualification analysis. You can read that to mean it has some “disqualifications” and will surely be found unfit. Note that Macatangay did not say anything negative about Rotadrill.
There is a study by the Water Resources Board that the Bacolod City officials should seriously, and I mean “seriously” look into. This study is entitled “Development of Ground Water Management Plan for Highly Urbanized Water Constraint Cities in Bacolod and Surrounding Areas.”
The study concluded that the acquifer in Bacolod is “already mined” which means we have already plenty of wells. Thus the NWRB said, “we do not recommend installation of any additional wells. Moreover to allow the recovery of the acquifer, some pumps may need to be shut off.”
BACIWA surely knows this but it insists on digging more wells. Is it the water or the money? BACIWA is putting the future of this city at serious risk and the city officials seem unable to stop it.
Furthermore, the NWRB said, “while there is abundance of water on the unconfirmed acquifer, its exploration has to be approached with caution since unconfirmed acquifers are always vulnerable to all types of contamination.” This can include intrusion of sea water into the wells.
While the NWRB does not close the possibility of digging wells if warranted, Bacolod should source this kind of water “eastward towards the slope of the mountain where urban sprawl has not reached.”
In clear defiance of this suggestion to the ultimate detriment of the entire city, BACIWA announced it will drill within Bacolod’s populous barangays: Villamonte, Mansilingan, lower Granada, Mandalagan, and City Heights.
Private electric pumps will be endangered. They must realize the huge volume of water BACIWA draws underground. Private pumps are not safe because sea water will come in when the acquifer weakens. The long dry and hot months reduce rain water needed to replenish of these acquifers.
The SP should stop this wells project and insist in surface water to supply Bacolod. We know huge untapped amounts of water flow to the sea. Why does BACIWA insist on wells that consume lots of energy, unreliable, and subject to contamination? Is it for the money?
Bacolod Cong. Greg Gasataya said he will call for a congressional inquiry into the state of our water supply and possibly the operation of BACIWA and the almost half a billion project that did not produce water. This is an intelligent albeit long overdue move. The SP hearings produced nothing.
Bacolod has been conned long enough with presentations that are intentionally made confusing and incomplete. The reports, though are good enough for some people who prefer not to ask questions.
I will continue next week.
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