The water refilling station project by the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation and Barangay Culandanum LGU in Bataraza is set to operate on March 23. (Photo from RTNMC facebook page)

Around 700 households in Barangay Culandanum, Bataraza, are set to benefit from a million-peso water refilling station funded by a mining company, which will address the community’s need for potable water.

Community organizer Vannesa Apilan of the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) said that the Culandanum community requested funding for the project in the amount of P1 million from the Social Development and Management Program’ (SDMP) 2021 budget.

It is a part of RTNMC’s SDMP Livelihood and Enterprise Development initiative, the grand opening of which is slated for March 23.

Photo from RTNMC Facebook Page

“Karamihan din doon ay ganiyan ang business, maraming kumuha ng gallon-gallon, doon kumukuha sa maliliit na tindahan— nakikita nila na mas kailangan nila ng malinis na tubig. Malinis naman ang tubig galing sa water system pero kailangan pa rin para sa mga bata,” she said.

The project took two months to complete on the border of Bataraza and Rizal municipalities.

Edmundo Oghayon, barangay captain of Culandanum, claimed the initiative is necessary in light of the barangay’s history of diarrhea outbreaks in 2011.

Photo from RTNMC Facebook Page

Previously, 90 patients were admitted to RTNFI hospital due to diarrhea. Additionally, multiple outbreaks have been documented since the 1990s as a result of contaminated water and inadequate sanitation.

The barangay council intends to use the revenue generated by the project to supplement existing funds for community needs.

“Gusto namin ma-ensure na ang aming tubig ay malinis na inumin. Pangalawa, sa tagal namin na naging beneficiary ng SDMP ng dalawang company, naisip namin na magkaroon ng economic enterprise para generated income na rin,” he said.

Even though the price per gallon of water has not been determined yet, Oghayon emphasized that it will be less expensive and more accessible than water from other refilling stations.

The barangay council aims to distribute the water gallons through small businesses in order to reach out to outlying communities that lack access to clean water, he also said.

The barangay council will operate the facility, which will be staffed by trained barangay workers.

“Ang plano ng council ay hindi sila maaapakan (other water refilling stations) sa pagnenegosyo ng tubig. Ang plano ay ida-drop namin sa mga tindahan at constituents ang customer, mababa lang ang bilihan,” he said.