Thursday, January 17, 2008

H² OH! Drinking Water in Dumaguete

It is often expressed that the ground water in the Philippines is not potable. If you read various travel sites and embassy fact sheets you will no doubt read their cautions to this effect.. Having lived in Dumaguete for a few years I can amend those general blanket statements with some local factual information.

Yes most of the city or municipal water is probably unsafe for foreign tourists. That said some well water in the outlying areas is quite good and safe to drink. Some foreigners have tested local well water and found it safe to consume. This does not take into account the local strains of bacteria in small amounts that may cause gastrointestinal distress. There are local testing facilities in Dumaguete that can test the water for you if you have a desire to drink local well water.

The pathogens that can be present are e-coli, various flukes, harmful bacteria, fungi, and heavy metals. It is prudent if you’re here for a short stay to avoid all tap water and ice in mixed drinks. This is advisable to ensure you have a pleasant visit and can enjoy your stay with out contracting Lapu Lapu’s revenge!

Most of the ice in the better restaurants here use treated water for their ice, but unless you know or want to play detective, just avoid it. (treated water ice usually has dimples from machine processing) When you live here you become a little more aware of what’s safe and what’s not.

What is “treated” water in Dumaguete? There are literally dozens of small water companies selling so called Spring water, Purified water, or the most common local generic name, mineral water. Most of these firms simply take the municipal water and run it through a series of filters to strain out the impurities. The equipment observed by me is state of the art commercial equipment, some of it imported from the U.S. or Europe.

I visited one such facility near our home to find out what they did to render the water safe to drink. “Real Spring mineral water” is the company name. Somewhat misrepresenting the actual product, it is no different from U.S. or European companies making similar claims in their Logos or names.

In this case the facility is very clean and modern inside. They use WaterCare equipment imported from the U.S. This system is made up of various carbon filters and polishers, ending up being processed through a 1 micron synthetic filter. After this the water is irradiated with ultra violet light to kill any residual bacteria. It is an impressive set up. We have in fact been using this water for well over one year and have had absolutely no problems. Safe bottled water is also sold in all the local grocery and convenient stores.

A developing country, the Philippines is rapidly becoming up to date with some basic infrastructure and modern services. The water treatment here is one example that may bring comfort to those wishing to visit and stay safe.


Anonymous said...

they have an office here in manila I saw it in SM Megamall when I was headed to the parking on the top floor a few days ago. I think they import products from the USA or something like that.. the store caught my attention because of its whiteness...

Anonymous said...

I'm talking about water care by the way