Central Luzon

250 illegal water lines blamed for Angeles stomach flu outbreak

Joann Manabat

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250 illegal water lines blamed for Angeles stomach flu outbreak

WATER TESTING. Angeles City's sanitation division and Primewater continues to conduct water investigation in Jaovil, Barangay Pandan.

Contributed photo

Barangay Captain Corazon Alejandrino said 27 main lines were found connected to the 250 illegal water lines in Jaovil community. Each water meter in Jaovil has several illegal pipes connected to the houses.

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – The city government found 250 illegal water pipe connections from a community in Angeles City to be the source of contaminated water in more than 1,000 households, which caused the outbreak of stomach flu last month.

The Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Central Luzon Center for Health Development presented the results of the epidemiological investigation of diarrheal cases to Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr.

According to Lazatin’s chief executive, IC Calaguas, the cases have been traced to undrinkable water from illegal settlers in the Jaovil community, Barangay Pandan. Calaguas said some water connections were submerged in the drainage, while other pipes had holes.

“Because they are illegal settlers, technically, they don’t have a water connection. Some of the residents use a water pump from the deep well. Those who have the water connection, it’s like they turned it into a business. They are the ones who connected the water to the other residents who didn’t have it,” Calaguas said.

“But the city cannot just penalize them for that because water is our basic right,” she added.

DEEP WELL. One of the sources of water of the residents in Jaovil community is a deep well. Joann Manabat/Rappler

Fifty-year-old Joseph, not his real name, has lived in Jaovil with his family of three for a decade. He said they have been supplying water to some 14 households for over a year.

Joseph said having the water lines connected to them lifts the burden of paying their water bill.

May linya kami. Personal connection namin yan. Pero dahil mahirap ang tubig dito, sa amin sila nakikikonekta. May kaniya-kaniya silang water meter sila at yun ang binabayaran nila sa amin,” he said.

(We have a line. That’s our personal connection. But because it’s challenging to get a water line here, our neighbors connect with us. They each have their water meters and that’s what they pay us.)

Bumibili pa rin kami ng drinking water pang inom at pang luto. Ginagamit lang namin yung tubig dito para panghugas ng pinggan, panlaba, panligo, ganun lang.”

(We still buy our drinking water which we also use for cooking. We only use the water here for doing the dishes, laundry, or when bathing.)

Barangay Captain Corazon Alejandrino said 27 main water lines were found connected to the 250 illegal water lines in the Jaovil community. Each main water meter in Jaovil has several illegal water pipes connected to the houses.

“What we also found out is that some areas here didn’t have a waterway, so the used and dirty water just flowed right to the streets,” Alejandrino said.

“Illegal settlers have also increased here. But before the water lines were cut, I ensured that the water rationing was all set, including the bottled water for drinking,” she added.

Primewater cut off the water supply to the residents of Jaovil on February 24. She added that they will continue to inspect water lines and collect water samples until all results are negative.

The city government, in collaboration with Primewater, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and the private sectors, has been rationing water to Jaovil residents.

Alejandrino said Primewater would restore the connection as soon as all results from the water sampling turn negative and declare the water clean and safe. – Rappler.com

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