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ROUGH CUTS | Weakness in communications

When the Davao City Water District (DCWD) started text-blasting information on water outages a year or two ago, we could not help but express openly our appreciation to the head of the unit that is undertaking it for the water firm – Ms. Jovy Cresta Duhaylungsod also known in the social media as JC Bogart. We were also profuse with our thanks to lawyer Bernard Delima with whom the unit was once (or still is?) under his department.

     Yes, with the system the water consumers in Davao City are constantly updated insofar as schedules of water outages are concerned. However, as months and years passed the way communication is disseminated has remained static. It seems the communications group is using a single template just to fill in the necessary data or details that need to be communicated.

     From our perspective as a consumer, we believe that certain aspects need to be improved if only to put it in the right context and hopefully lessen the complaints of water users.

     For example last January 12, 2023, the water firm text-blasted an advisory captioned: Emergency Water Interruption. The advisory was posted at 3:06 in the afternoon, but the water outage started at 2:30 on the same afternoon with no estimated restoration time. When we read the advisory the water service outage was already in progress. We were caught unaware, so we could not store water for our household use.

     Of course, we understand that if it is an emergency interruption, it is either the fault or defect in the system suddenly came out of the blue or was discovered only very late and needs to be addressed to within the soonest time possible, or the defect has already caused the water outage when discovered, and the fault needs to be repaired right there and then to avoid more serious damage and huge volume of water wastage.

     If we may suggest maybe it would be less prone to misinterpretation and may earn lesser negative reactions if the advisory would say that a water service interruption is ongoing due to an emergency repair needed to be done.

     Frankly, it is infuriating when one is told at 3:06 p.m. that a water service interruption will start at 2:50 in the same afternoon. And this announcement is happening at the DCWD every so often. 

    Even worst is when the scheduled water outage is not pushed through and instead done the next day or some other dates are not anymore covered with an advisory. A classic example was the announcement of an outage last January 13 supposed to cover our place in the Tugbok district supplied by the Riverside Water System. It was scheduled to start at 8:25 even though we received the advisory at 9:15 on the same day.

     Our household, and perhaps all other households in the areas concerned were caught unprepared. Good thing that the water supply cut was not pushed through – luckily for us. But this time and in several other times previously, we have to store extra water unnecessarily adding up to our bill. We cannot also just use the stored water for household purposes because it might have already been contaminated. 

     But as we said earlier, we are happy with how the water firm is reaching out to their consumers, especially informing them of service outages’ schedules. But we are pointing at the apparent weakness in how the communication is done. 

     With Dr. Helen Paguican on the DCWD board (is she still with?) we are certain she could look into it and perhaps recommend improvements.                                                             **********************

     Well, talking of the DCWD 10-year Development Plan, it is claimed by the water firm to be the primary reason why it is now implementing the 3-tranche water rate hike the total of which is 60 percent over three years starting last 2022. The next installment of the increase is anytime this year, according to an announcement made by the water agency’s communications unit.

     We wonder if the additional charge will also be used to fund the restoration of the other side of the Talandang-Calinan Road which is now badly damaged because all vehicles passing the route have no other lane to use but the one not destroyed in the ongoing laying of pipes in the water firm’s bulk water supply augmentation project.

     We are certain that the restoration of the lane where the contractor does the digging is the responsibility of the DCWD’s project partner. The repair of the other lane the destruction of which is brought about by the temporary condemnation of the lane where the pipes are buried is not yet clear as to whose responsibility. 

     Will the restoration be done by the City Government of Davao? Will it be undertaken by the national government? Or should it be done by the project owners that include the DCWD?

     We are asking these questions because even from our being a layman and wanting engineering knowledge, common sense will tell us the damage of the unexcavated lane is so enormous that it may even require total rehabilitation.

     In other words, it means a huge sum of money is needed to undertake the repair work. But we doubt if this could be added up to the responsibility of the DCWD or its partner agency. We can only hope. If not, we must be ready to suffer using the road of perdition for a long period.



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