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Thursday, March 26, 2020

IS IT SAFE TO DRINK FROM THE TAP?

If you are a millennial, belong to Gen Z, or born in the mid ‘90s, I’m quite certain that you’d answer with a quick and emphatic-- NO!
But for those who belong to my generation, we actually lived at a time when bottled water and mineral water stations were non-existent and we could just drink out of any water faucet anytime—without any hesitation.



To tell you honestly, though, even I couldn’t remember the last time I drank from the tap. Ever since mineral and bottled water were sold, drinking straight from the tap has become pretty unthinkable to most residents of Metro Manila. There was this general impression that the water isn’t safe for drinking that’s why a lot of people got rich selling water purifiers, filters and bottled water. For us, the water that comes out of the faucet is only good for taking a bath, washing clothes, doing the dishes and rinsing veggies and fruits.



That was until our recent Maynilad tour which led us to Angat Dam, Ipo Dam and Maynilad’s La Mesa Water Treatment Plant 2.



The first stop was the Angat Dam which has “Class A” water meaning it is the best and easiest type of water to treat because it has the least impurities.



Our 2nd stop was the Ipo Dam, which diverts water from Angat Dam to the Novaliches Portal. Maynilad’s share of the raw water thereafter flows to its La Mesa Water Treatment Plants in Quezon City.



3rd stop was at Maynilad’s La Mesa Treatment Plant 2, right where the raw water undergoes treatment and laboratory testing.
We learned that for the past several years, Maynilad has been spending billions of pesos to transform and improve the Manila water network and that the water they produce conforms to the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water set by the Department of Health (DOH) and compliant with the World Health Organization.



Samples are gathered daily and tested in a laboratory to ensure that water supply adheres to those standards, and the DOH and MWSS also conduct independent sampling activities to verify Maynilad’s findings.
This means that the water provided by Maynilad is actually guaranteed potable—well, at least until the water reaches your meter. This is the tricky part, because then the quality of the water would change depending on the material and quality of your house’s internal pipes. Leaky pipes for example might get contaminated by soil or other foreign substances. For your water to be considered safe to drink, there shouldn't be any leaks or damage to your pipes since these can become entry points for contamination.



So how does Maynilad filter the water from the dams?
Raw water from Angat Dam goes through a multi-stage treatment process that includes:
Screening - Raw water passes through screens that prevent the entry of foreign objects such as grass, leaves and tree limbs and other large floatables. 
Rapid Mixing- Chemicals are added to the raw water so undesirable, tiny suspended solids form into clusters. Chlorine may also be added for pre-chlorination.
Flocculation - Raw water is gently stirred so the small clusters of suspended solids will collide and form into large particles called "flocs".
Sedimentation- Floc particles get heavier and settle to the bottom of the basin
Filtration- Water from sedimentation basins is filtered through dual-media filters.  These filters trap the flocs as water flows down through them.
Post treatment- Before leaving the treatment plants, lime and chlorine may be added to the treated water. Chlorine is added to disinfect water and ensure that it is safe for consumers. Lime is added to correct the PH or acidity levels of the water, thereby preventing corrosion of the pipes in the distribution system.




La Mesa Treatment Plant 1 was commissioned in 1982 while La Mesa Treatment Plant 2 began its operations in 1995. The former was designed by an American company while the latter was designed by a French Company.
This is the step-by-step process on how they treat raw water, turning it into safe drinking water. Whenever there are service interruptions, you might notice that the water may appear cloudy or muddy at first once service resumes. If you see this, Maynilad suggests to just let the water flow out briefly until it becomes clear.


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