A loose group of city water refilling station owners have appealed to city authorities to heed their concerns on the proliferation of mostly illegal vendors of purified water plying their trade to more than 98,000 residents in Tagbilaran City.
The city water refilling business, reeling from cutthroat competition , is now facingÂ tough years ahead after revenues have shrunk and earnings plummeting from previous years.
Despite three letters sent to the Office of the City Mayor “expressing our strong desire to have a consultative meeting”, more than half of owners of water refilling stations are still awaiting a positive response from City Hall.
Twelve licensed city water refillers have sent letters to the City Mayor since July of last year requesting for a consultative meeting between owners of water refilling stations operating in the city and the City Treasurer, Permit and Licensing and City Health offices.
But City Administrator Edi Borja told theÂ ChronicleÂ “we have met with several of their members to discuss their concerns and we advised them to formally organize themselves so they could speak with one voice”.
Calling themselves “The Loose Group of Water Refilling Station Owners operating in Tagbilaran City”Â -they called the attention of city hall authorities to three groups of water businessmen that should be closely monitored for their nefarious activities.
First are water vendors without water refilling stations but source their supplies from water stations that are legal or illegal and sell these water with different labels on their containers.
These unscrupulous practice by these vendors frees them from any liability that would arise in cases of complaints on contaminated water since ownership of containers could not be properly identified. Secondly, the operation of water distribution of out of town water refillers in the city has alarmed the group since the quality of their water could not be properly monitored by city health authorities.
At the risk of a health outbreak accusing fingers might point out to the legitimate water retailers since these illegal water vendors are operating outside the supervision of city authorities.But the group was quick to point out the stringent requirements imposed by City Health authorities on their operations to safeguard the quality of purified water that conforms to the national standard for safe drinking water.
Source water and their products are under regular monitoring by the City Health Office with national standards for drinking water which contains 54 parameters strictly enforced.
Most members under the group went through a 5 day Php12,000 Certification Course for Water Refilling and Plant Operators conducted by the University of the Philippines College of Public Health and the Department of Health, according to Loboc Municipal Councilor Erwin Baquial, owner and operator of Fernando’s Water located in Barangay Dao, Tagbilaran City.
The group told theÂ CHRONICLEÂ that owners of water refilling stations in neighboring towns as far as Bilar are distributing their water to consumers in the city and in most cases without the necessary license or permits.
Lastly, water refilling stations operating in the city without valid licenses have been growing at an alarming rate especially those within their home premises.
Without any business permits, these water vendors has been depriving the city coffers of additional taxes, according to the concerned water refillers.
Selling at P25 – P35 per gallon, unlicensed water distributors easily undercut prices of legitimate water refillers by P15 – 20 per gallon.
Once considered a profitable business venture – water stores that sell purified water , the estimated P120 million industry is seen to have been scraping the bottom as more than twenty out of town refillers according to industry sources, have intruded into the lucrative water business.
At present, more than eighty water refilling stations are operating in the city together with illegal water vendors and out of town water refilling businessmen, according to industry sources.Â (CMV)