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ROUGH CUTS | Where Konsumo Davao is sorely missed

 DURING the past few days, mobile phones of most Davaoeños were littered with blasted-text messages emanating from the corporate communications unit of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) advising residents of these and those areas within the agency’s service coverage that water supply is not available with no certainty as to its restoration.

     In fact, the other day and certainly yesterday, most of the water consumers both from the south and north of the city were complaining that they had no water, some over two days, with others claiming that the absence of the life-saving liquid has been intermittent for quite some time. In addition, the complaints mostly let out on social media ranged from such pleas hoping that the water supplier would be able to provide them with a clear time-table for the service restoration to demanding that DCWD should send more water tankers where they could get their needed supply pending service comeback.

     Some residents, in fact, have become even bolder in cursing the water agency sarcastically, saying that the water concessionaire is faster a thousand times when it comes to implementing the 30 percent of its approved (kuno) 60 percent rate hike. 

     Yes, we noted that the protestations of consumers were louder and overt the other day (Saturday) because the areas in the city deprived of water supply was almost all of the city’s heavily populated sectors, including the urban center.

     In fact, the DCWD was at it again. That is, it was in its usual element of inconsistency in its advice of service interruption scheduled much later than the supposed start of the water outage due to some repairs or maintenance work. For example, in our barangay, which is part of Tugbok district but served by the DCWD’s Calinan Riverside Water Supply System, the announcement came in roughly half an hour late from the supposed start of the water outage, which was at 9:55 a.m. last Saturday.  The advisory did not mention as to how long will the repair work take.

     We could only thank the heavens that some “gods” at the water concessionaire appeared to have called off their decision to shut off the system. The water service interruption did not happen. Had it been pursued, then we would not have even a single drop of water for our household use because of the delay in the advisory.

     But despite the apparently uncoordinated announcement and the non-implementation of the Riverside Water Supply System shutdown, we and the rest of the resident-consumers in our barangay and other peripheral areas were saved the trouble of finding where to get water.

     Still, upon reading the announcement, we scrambled to find whatever container available in the house to be able to store water while still available from the faucets. After all we had no idea whether the service outage would proceed later or not.

     Roughly, our household could stock an estimated two cubic meters of water. In the process, we kind of advanced an addition of so much volume to our consumption for the month of September. Late the other week, we also stored an estimated 4 to 5 cubic meters of water as we heed the advice of DCWD to store water due to a scheduled service stoppage which, in the end, did not also materialize. Instead, the water service interruption happened the day before and was back about an hour after the new advisory for an outage from 12:00 of that day until 3:00 in the afternoon of the same day.

     From this experience of ours, we started toying with the idea that the more there are announced water service interruption schedules that do not materialize, more and more consumers could be correct in their complaints of rising water consumption despite the service outages.

     Naturally, of course, because the tendency is that when the announced outage does not happen as scheduled and the household has stored so much water as advised by the DCWD, members would rather use the water available from the faucets instead of lifting the containers full of the liquid to the part of the house where the water is supposed to be used. That is already too inconvenient to many of them.

     And chances are, the stored water ends up utilized to water the plants, or simply splashed to that dried part of the yard nearest to where the containers are placed.  Holding them longer could invite dengue-carrying mosquitoes or bacteria contamination, thereby risking the health of residents. Of course, the certainty is more of these unrealized interruption schedules and the repeated storing of water to satisfy the need if there is a loss of supply, the bigger volume is registered in one’s water meter. What follows next is definitely a much bigger bill for any month covered in the billing period.

     We are hoping that these offshoots of a seeming lack of coordination between two or more departments in the DCWD, or possibly the failure of the water firm’s management to anticipate more serious faults in its water lines is merely coincidental with its first billing carrying the increase in the rates approved by government regulators. 

     We hope too, that these series of long water service interruptions in several areas in Davao City and the many unrealized announced outages are not deliberate to attain a certain objective. And we’d rather not be lured into joining speculations that it is, although some consumers are already into it. But honestly, we cannot help but compare the very unpredictable water service situation in the city as of this time to the prevalence of the CoViD 19 pandemic.  Despite the advancement in modern medicine still it was only recently that the world is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

     In the case of DCWD, despite the discovery of modern mechanical and/or electronic technology, faults in or along water supply lines continue to occur. Add to it man’s vanity and sometimes unwillingness to work as part of a team, and water service interruptions will continue to happen every now and then.  And as it is in CoViD 19, the most heard recommendation is for the people just to learn to live with it. We mean, we have to live that there will always be service outages not just of the DCWD but also with other public utilities like power and telecommunications.

     At this time in the reckoning of the water utility’s service level, the activism of the defunct consumer advocate Konsumo Davao is sorely missed.

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