BONTOC, Mountain Province – The distribution of sufficient and safe potable supply of water will soon be enjoyed by the four central barangays of this capital town with the ongoing installation of a potable water system in Gakhan Creek/ spring in Barangay Talubin going directly to the water reservoir in Pagturao, Poblacion and to be distributed to the households, commercial buildings and institutions in Barangays Bontoc Ili, Poblacion, Caluttit and Samoki. The Gakhan Creek water source can be reached by four to five hours trek from the road going up the mountain.
At present, the Bontoc municipal government, through the Water Works Unit, relies mainly on two springs as its main water source to supply the domestic and commercial needs of the four central barangays. These are the Balabag spring located along the Bontoc-Talubin Road and Sullong spring in Barangay Bontoc Ili. However, the total volume from these sources is insufficient to meet the present water demand of the consumers even in a scheduled basis.
With the additional water coming from the mountaintop of Talubin, officials in this municipality expressed high hopes that water shortages will no longer be a problem.
According to Caesar M. Kalang-ad of the Office of the Municipal Engineer, the project was funded from various government agencies, the first phase costing P10 million downloaded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to the municipal government was implemented and completed last year.
Considering the terrain and distance of the water source to be connected to an existing pipe in Sitio Gasagas, Talubin, additional fund support came from a P7-million funding from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) under its Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat (SALINTUBIG) Program.
In their fervent hope that the project will come into fruition, Bontoc Mayor Franklin C. Odsey, together with the members of the Sangguniang Bayan, lobbied for additional P10 million from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and P3 million from the DILG.
The location of the water source entails a high project cost and longer implementation time, with pipes having to be cut into three pieces then connected again when it reached the destination,, and workers have to carry 6-inch diameter pipes passing through the rugged terrain going up the mountain.
Mayor Odsey who trekked for more than eight hours going up the mountain and then going back to the road to personally see the implementation of the project is pleased with the result, saying once completed, the municipality will be able to meet the demand supply of water in the households, commercial buildings and institutions.
“The additional water source is enough to supply the central barangays in Bontoc. We continue with this endeavour because we want to improve our services to our people and to our visitors considering that our municipality has always been the host to provincial activities, events and gatherings. I want to make sure that the public has an access to one of the important commodities – water,” the mayor remarked.
According to Water Works Superintendent Julius Rhuel F. Malafu, there are 1,500 consumers being supplied with water by the municipal government. Of the total, 1,153 are residential while 347 are commercial.
Each consumer has to pay P1,370.00 for the connection application fee, membership fee, administrative charge and rental for the welding machine. In the ensuing months, a residential consumer has to pay P50.00 monthly while commercial consumer has to pay P120.00 monthly.
Malafu clarified that instances when supply of water becomes inadequate and lesser in volume is during the summer vacation as the water level from the sources go down. He also divulged that illegal tapping of water from the pipe lines by some individuals resulted to the decrease in the quantity of water distributed to the consumers.
In cases where there were no supply of water distributed especially during rainy season, he explained that these were caused by soil erosion destroying the pipelines and/or clogging of the strainer tank from the main water source.
With these challenges, the public’s understanding is solicited while the municipal government is doing its best to address the problem on water shortage in the central barangays.
By Alpine L. Killa