Abejo Waters Corporation (AWC), belatedly realizing their corporate social responsibility to the residents of the municipality of Panglao forwarded to the office of Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member Councilor Joseph Jasper Arcay, the Water Resources Evaluation report of Panglao, Bohol.
Arcay brought up the lack of information bugging the water supply proposal of AWC due to the non release of the study and pressed for it’s release during a meeting with Governor Edgar Chatto on February 15, 2016 at the Governor’s Mansion.
The nineteen page water evaluation report was given to Arcay by AWC on February 26, 2016 despite the strong objections of Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero who voiced her apprehensions that the release of the water report will be muddled by her political rivals and critics during the election campaign period.
However, AWC obviously ignored Montero’s verbal disapproval against the release of the report and delivered on its promise made by AWC President and Chief Executive Officer Gabino “Borgy” Matugas-Abejo, Jr. and AWC Legal Counsel Atty. Salvador Licayan Â soon after the meeting.
The Chronicle was present when Abejo, Jr. and Licayan assured Arcay and Tawala Barangay Captain Saturnina Hernando to make available the water study to the SB.
Abejo, Jr. and Licayan realized the need to make public the water evaluation report after SB Councilor Rogelin Degoma, Tawala Barangay Captain Saturnina Hernando, andÂ Brgy. Looc Captain Reginaldo Guioguio joined Arcay urging AWC for the release of the report during the meeting.
Chatto met with the Panglao LGU officials, heads of the provincial government offices and national agencies Â to thresh out contentious issues that was racking the assailed AWC-Panglao LGU water agreement.
The report, a copy which was obtained by the Chronicle was signed by Alejandro V. Dayapdapan, Jr., Project in Charge and noted by Project Manager Engr. Joemar Gigtenta.
AWC and the LGU of Panglao inked a 25 yr, Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) forÂ the development of available water resources and development of additional water sources outside Panglao island in the near future.
The proposed Panglao Water Supply System Project aims to supply and deliver 4,000 to 8,000 cubic meters per day of potable water to the ten Panglao barangays from “available brackish raw water” treated by “reverse osmosis” where supply of freshwater is limited.
A groundwater study was conducted by WATCON, Inc. from October – November, 2015 while test well drilling was carried out and completed by Acob Drilling & Services from July – August, 2015.
The AWC test well no. 1 was located in Barangay Looc, Panglao with the result of the quality of pumped water after 28 hours continuous discharge test pumping showing poor water quality according to the Metro Cebu Water District where the standard physical and chemical analysis were done.
The test drills by Abejo’s drilling contractors ignited community outrage that pushed the SB’s of the affected barangays to adopt strongly worded resolutions condemning the unauthorized drilling.
Miffed by the sudden rush to drill by personnel identified with Panglao Water Resources, residents of Barangay Looc deplored the unauthorized drilling activities despite the absence of an NWRB water permit and the approval of the barangay council.
TheÂ ChronicleÂ learned that Looc Barangay Head Reginaldo Guioguio complained to the Sangguniang Bayan of Panglao about the mysterious digging activities that reached the local DILG office.
Barangay residents of Looc, Bolod, Danao, Bil-isan and Tawala were baffled by a water permit application for “surface water/groundwater” filed by Panglao Water Services, Inc. before the National Water Resources Board (NWRB).
Questions were also raised by several residents of the barangays over the corporate relationship of Abejo Waters Corporation, who owns the majority shares of Panglao Water Services, Inc.
According to Municipal Councilor Rogelin Degoma, the corporate address of both companies is a lot in Barangay Danao reportedly owned by Montero.
The SB’s of Looc, Bolod, Danao, Lourdes, Bil-isan and Tawala and the Liga ng mga Barangay, Panglao Chapter vented their “strong objections” thru resolutions sent to the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) against the water permit application of Panglao Water Services, Inc.
Despite the apparent resentment of the affected barangay residents against the alleged illegal diggings, WATCON, Inc., AWC’s drilling contractor expressed their appreciation to the “residents in the general area whose valuable support made this study possible” as shown in the water report.
The ACW water study confirmed the findings of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) in their study on June, 2015 warning the LGU officials that over-extraction of underground water in Panglao “may cause surface subsidenceÂ and carbonate dissolution or cover collapse and eventually resulting to a catastrophic sink hole”.
According to the water report, 95% of Panglao island is covered by Maribojoc limestone that “exhibits numerous sinkholes, caves and caverns which are products of chemical weathering of carbonate rocks”.
The water report cited a 1998 comprehensive well inventory in Panglao Island by the Provincial Government of Bohol in cooperation with SWECO, a Swedish consulting firm with a total of 386 wells.
Residents of Panglao, according to the AWC study “obtain their water supply from shallow drilled and dug wells”. The wells are commonly drilled 10 ft below static water level with 10 inch (254 mm) borehole diameter, quoting a local well driller.
The wells are equipped with hand pumps, electrically-driven pumps or with simple rope and bucket. Panglao island being a small island “is susceptible to saline water intrusion and upconing once groundwater withdrawal is made”, continued the study.
According to the International Water Management Institute, saltwater upconing may occur when a pumping well is installed in a freshwater reservoir that is underlain by layers containing saltwater.
When overexploitation of the freshwater aquifer occurs and the freshwater head decreases locally due to pumping, the saltwater will be flowing upwards towards the groundwater wells.
The water report concluded that “to provide the Panglao residents with potable water, drilling of wells that will produce brackish as raw water for reverse osmosis treatment is a feasible water supply source as confirmed from the results of test drilling in Barangay Looc, Panglao”.
The insistence of the Panglao LGU and AWC to source its water supply from within their area runs counter to the Development and Management of Inter-Municipal Water Supply System of the Bohol Integrated Area Development (BIAD) phase 1.
The proposed water supply project using surface water from Abatan River in Maribojoc will initially cover Tagbilaran City, Cortes, Maribojoc, Dauis and Panglao.
The Water Supply project using surface water sources are planned due to the limited availability of ground water supply.Â Tagbilaran City and Â Dauis source their water needs from a private water provider who is getting its supply from a ground source in the neighboring town of Corella.
Corella for now is “weighing options whether or not to continue sharing its ground water” to BWUI and Balibago Waters pending resolution of the issues relating to its water conservation and management efforts.Â (Chito M. Visarra)Â