Out with asbestos pipes, homeowners tell water agency

Published by rudy Date posted on April 30, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – A homeowners’ welfare group group in Parañaque City is calling on a water concessionaire to replace the old asbestos pipes at BF Homes when the agency takes over their water system.

The Homeowners Welfare Advocacy Group (HWAG) pointed out that asbestos pipes contain carcinogens that can cause cancer and contaminate clothes, the air and water used for washing and drinking.

In a statement, Hernan Juatas asked the Maynilad Water Services Inc., which is set to take over the BF Homes water systems, to replace the poisonous asbestos pipes left behind by the Philippine Waterworks and Construction Corp (PWCC).

“Countries like America banned the use of asbestos pipes years ago. A survey of 538 US cities showed that 65 percent showed the presence of asbestos in their water,” Juatas said.

The HWAG reiterated the appeal two months after President Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order 688 allowing the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewage System (MWSS) to take over private water systems.

HWAG secretary Lina Guidote said the takeover was temporarily halted after a Las Piñas City court issued a temporary restraining order in avor of the PWCC.

Guidote said the court granted the TRO on March 28 and Maynilad has yet to start renovating or provide them with water. “Maynilad must also do some repiping and rehabilitation to reduce leakages. We are losing about 60 percent in the old broken pipes which have been in place 20 years ago,” she said

The PWCC is the private developer of BF Homes that is also in charge of distributing water to 50,000 or so residents.

Along with Maynilad, the PWCC and the MWSS earlier failed to reach an agreement on the selling price per cubic meter should Maynilad finally gain control of the water system.

The MWSS suggested a selling price of P31 with a profit margin of P8, but the PWCC wanted it pegged from P55-P90 “to recover from our losses.”

The MWSS and Maynilad sell water to nearby subdivisions at P35 per cubic meter, saying that the P55 selling price may be difficult to justify.

“There is a paper going around for homeowners to sign if we agree to a tentative P51 selling price. But first they must repipe. If there are leaks, we will be forced to subsidize the losses,” Guidote added.

Said Nelson Lacambra of the mayor’s office: “Maynilad and PWCC have agreed on P51 per cubic meter. BF is haggling for less. But the National Water Resources Board gives the final okay.” – Julie M. Aurelio, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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