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HomeLocal NewsAs Primewater fails, volunteer brigades put out 'fires' in big relocation areas...

As Primewater fails, volunteer brigades put out ‘fires’ in big relocation areas as Bacolod stews in searing El Niño heat for want of water

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Fire trucks used to putting out flames are now rushing to flameless fire incidents as the rising El Niño heat has led to communities “burning” due to lack of water caused by the inability of the Villar-owned Primewater Construction Corporation to provide enough water to more than half a million residents of this highly-urbanized provincial center.

Lawyer Caesar Distrito, however, told DNX City Hall has yet to complete a survey on the potable water situation being conducted by the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

Distrito had earlier pointed out the water situation is based on open and artesian wells and does not include piped-in water from Primewater and the original distributor, Bacolod City Water District.

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With the promise of Primewater to supply sufficient water at least five months away, hundreds of residents in two major relocation sites had to rely on water trucked to them by two major volunteer fire brigades here.

As the heat rose to 41 degrees yesterday, the Amity Volunteer Fire Brigade rushed water to hundreds of residents to Phases G and H at the relocation site in Barangay Vista Alegre, formally named during the Leonardia government as Progreso Village, where hundreds of residents had no water from their taps.

State weather bureau PAGASA reported Friday a two-day heat forecast of 41 degrees, until today, 6 April 2024, a weekend.

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Businessman Crispin Chua, secretary of the volunteer group, told DNX their water supply mission started around 4pm and ended more than four hours later.

In another relocation site in the south, Handumanan, hundreds of residents in three puroks or sub-villages also sought the help of City Hall for water.

Councilor Cindy Rojas posted Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez sought the help of the Chamber Fire Brigade that sent its fire truck with a 25,000 liter capacity to Handumanan.

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Chamber fire chief Bryant Lao confirmed their operations extended until today to another barangay near their headquarters at the Shopping Commercial Complex.

Distrito said aside from the two relocation sites, potable water lack was also observed in the urban villages of 32, 29 and 23.

Primewater had admitted in a water summit called by Benitez December, last year that it has yet to fully deliver the needed daily supply of 17 million liters of water a day as one of its executive added it has repaired at least 35 kilometers of pipelines that is only a fraction, however, of the total length of service lines in the city’s 61 barangays.

Recently, Primewater assured Benitez in a memorandum of undertaking that they will increase their water supply but Distrito clarified in a subsequent news conference that that undertaking would be realized five months into the future since last March, just in time when the El Niño phenomenon is forecast to wane and would be replaced by the wet weather phenomenon, La Niña.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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