Senior chemist Danica Bendo conducts physical analysis of water samples at the city water district laboratory

The Puerto Princesa City Water District’s (PPCWD) upgraded water testing laboratory will ensure the public that the water supply meets the required standard and quality as provided to customers, according to management.

General Manager Walter Laurel said during a media tour Monday that water testing at the laboratory would assist the Department of Health (DOH) in achieving the Philippine National Standard for Drinking Water (PNSDW).

Mohamad Mangotara, senior water utility development officer of PPCWD laboratory shows the biological safety cabinet for microbiological testing

“Assurance ‘yon na talagang ang tubig natin ay pasado sa Philippine National Standard for Drinking Water so with that laboratory ay kampante tayo na ang tubig na binibigay natin sa mamamayan ay safe and potable. Minsan may mga outbreak at kapag wala kang laboratory, hindi mo ma-refute na hindi galing sa amin ‘yong contamination,” he said.

The laboratory was constructed in 2014 within the main office area and transferred to the motorpool compound of the PPCWD in Barangay Sta. Monica. Laurel said that the management is allotting an internal budget for its improvement and investing in the equipment.

Senior water utility development officer Mohamad Mangotara said that PPCWD invested around P10 to P13 million for laboratory improvement. It includes equipment such as graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS) amounting P4 million, flame AAS worth P2 million, and biological safety cabinet amounting P500,000.

The laboratory’s graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS) amounting to P4 million which tests the bad element that could intoxicate an individual

The AAS is used to test water samples and identify bad elements such as cadmium, arsenic, and lead that could intoxicate an individual or can cause chronic diseases like cancer.

“Ang core o function talaga ng water district at laboratory ay ma-maintain nila ang quality ng tubig na walang bacteria talaga kaya araw-araw kami nagchi-check ng chlorine residual. Iyon ang isa sa vital goal namin kasi kapag walang chlorine ‘yan, malaking potential na magkaroon ng bacteria diyan lalo na kapag may leak,” he said.

Mangotara explained that the water supply is tested through ultraviolet (UV) and chlorination. The testing of samples undergoes chlorine residual, physical and chemical analysis, and microbiological.

Checking the color of water as one of the aesthetic parameters in physical analysis of samples

The PPCWD said that during physical analysis, the water samples gathered are tested under aesthetic parameters in Ph level, color, and turbidity.

The laboratory is testing random samples from one household of covered barangays, and surface and groundwater sources. The team also monitors the pumping stations and endpoints in barangays and satellite stations in Napsan, Lucbuan, Binduyan, Macarascas, Bahile, Inagawan, and Luzviminda.

“Kami sa water quality ay mahigpit kami kapag nakita namin na bakit ganito ‘yong tubig, talagang tatawagan namin ang operator na in-charge at bibigyan nila ng chlorine ang tubig na ‘yon,” he added.

The PPCWD also conducts a monthly microbiological test of water samples and sent to DOH and a private laboratory in Manila for third-party confirmation and validation.

The laboratory which is an ISO 9001-2015 management system accredited was inaugurated on August 12. Some of the laboratory rooms showcased by the PPCWD management are intended for physical analysis room, atomic absorption, culture media, and hot room for heavy metal analysis of water.

Danica Bendo, senior chemist, said that the PPCWD complies with the chlorination limit of 0.3 to 1.5 parts per million (PPM) based on PNSDW.

“Ang accepted ng World Health Organization ay one step na disinfection pero dito ay two steps tayo. May UV tayo at meron tayong chlorination, after natin i-UV ay kino-chlorinate natin para ma-make sure natin na okay sila sa household consumer. May limit din si PNSDW diyan kasi hindi pwede na sobrang taas na chlorine kasi minsan amoy mo, di rin pwede na sobrang baba,” she said.

Bendo said that the laboratory also checks and tests the suggested new water sources for their potentials to supply. She added that the water supply becomes potable if it qualifies the 10 mandatory drinking water quality parameters by DOH.

The city water district stated that its water supply is potable like those in water refilling stations and it even maintained minerals.

Laurel said that the PPCWD laboratory is in the process of accreditation in DOH for drinking water and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for testing wastewater before disposal.

“Dahil may laboratory tayo at ang ating personnel ay qualified to do the laboratory works ay kaya natin i-defend lalo na kung ma-issue na ‘yong accreditation sa atin. Kasi ongoing pa ang accreditation niyan, i-accredit namin sa DOH for drinking water then i-accredit namin siya sa DENR for testing ng waste water,” he said.

Mangotara said that aside from complying with the standard of DOH, it also follows the standard of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). Even if the DOH accreditation is not a requirement for water districts, it is an initiative of the PPCWD to show its credibility as a potable source of water.

“Nasa process kasi kami ng accreditation, may pumunta rito na taga-audit ng DOH for accreditation. May findings sila na dapat na-comply namin, ang pag-renovate rito ay isa sa pinaka-priority then bumili kami ng gamit na kailangan,” he said.

“Credibility namin as lab na mag-issue ng report na gusto namin na DOH accredited. Parang may authority ang DOH na nag-i-issue kami ng certificates, hindi kami nag-i-issue kami ng certificates hangga’t hindi kami accredited. Siguro tinitingnan namin ay 2023,” Bendo added.

Mangotara and Bendo also look forward to additional manpower inside the laboratory to delegate the tasks and as part of the requirement under DOH accreditation. Laurel, on the other hand, said that the PPCWD has opened a plantilla position for a medical technologist after the promotion of Mangotara as the head of the laboratory.

Bendo said that PPCWD is working on the accreditation since 2019 and eyes to finish it by 2023. The PPCWD can also test external clients with affordable testing rates and provide certification once it becomes DOH accredited.

PPCWD also showed its San Jose Booster Station and Ground Reservoir operated by a 30 KW Grid-Tied Solar Power System that helps to save energy.

Laurel said that all 19 pumping stations of the PPCWD have hydro-optic disinfection UV each to kill microorganisms which is part of the two water testing of PPCWD.