In view of the Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) outbreak that recently affected a significant number of
residents in the city, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda is pushing for the passage of a new ordinance that seeks to protect the public from waterborne illnesses. Earlier, local health authorities, after conducting microbial analyses, concluded that the abnormal increase of diarrhea cases in the city was predominantly caused by the presence of E.coli bacteria in various water sources.

During the regular session of the Baguio City Council on January 15, 2024, Tabanda broached the prospect of crafting the said ordinance in partnership with the City Health Services Office. This ordinance shall provide a regulatory framework to ensure the quality and safety of the public water supplies. It shall outline specific standards or guidelines to guarantee that the water distributed to
consumers meets certain health and safety requirements.

Tabanda also mentioned the prospect of studying the Baguio City Water Code (Ordinance 19-2006 and Ordinance 13-2007) for possible amendment in order to strengthen the protocols for public health. At the same time, in a dialogue with acting city health officer Celia Flor Brillantes, Tabanda called for the upgrading of the current water analysis laboratory of the CHSO as it can only detect
certain bacterias at the moment.

The upgrade of the facility will allow the testing of viruses and more kinds of bacteria. Tabanda also urged Brillantes to resume the conduct of regular meetings of the Local Drinking Water Quality
Monitoring Committee to discuss more efficient ways on water testing. This, after Atty. Nellie
Olaires, president of the association of owners of water refilling stations in the city, said the last time the members of the committee convened was in 2019.

The president of the association of owners of water refilling stations is a member of this committee along with the city health services officer, concerned city officials, and other city department heads.
The city mayor is the committee chairperson. Under the Baguio Water Code, the committee’s primary function is to regularly collect and analyze water samples, evaluate the laboratory results,
and issue a certificate that the tested drinking water is safe and potable.

It is also their function to institute remedial measures to correct the deficiency of the city’s water system. These future legislative actions will prevent another waterborne disease outbreak in the city, Tabanda said.

Jordan G. Habbiling/SP

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