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AC Water District haled to Ombudsman

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ANGELES CITY – Barely two weeks before he died, the acting administrator of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) filed a case before the Office of the Ombudsman against the Angeles City Water District (ACWD) for alleged illegal activities.

Jeci A. Lapus, acting LWUA administrator, signed on June 29, 2021 a letter informing Atty. Fortunato G. Guerrero, executive director of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), that the LWUA “has already filed a complaint against the members of the ACWD Board of Directors and concerned officers.”

Lapuz succumbed to a heart attack last July 11 at the St. Luke’s Hospital in Bonifacio Global City. 

The six-page complaint-affidavit executed by Lapuz detailed ACWD’s alleged irregularities and the findings of the LWUA Composite Team that conducted an investigation.

The complaint was based on the endorsement of the sangguniang panlungsod pertaining to the request for investigation of the alleged illegal activities of the ACWD.

“Upon our extensive assessment of some of the transactions entered into by the ACWD, we find that an investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman… is necessary in order to protect the interest of the government,” it read.

 

Texin Inc.

It can be recalled that on Sept. 15, 2015, the ACWD represented by its general manager Engr. Reynaldo C. Liwanag, entered into a contract agreement with Texin Inc. represented by Allan Avenido, vice president for sales and operations, for the supply, delivery and commissioning of Ultra Violet Hydro Optic Disinfection System (UVHODS) for ACWD central pumping station in Barangay Sto. Domingo involving a total contract amount of P29,940,326.

On March 15, 2016, ACWD and Texin, Inc. entered into another contract agreement for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of one-unit UVHOD at the St. Vincent Pumping Station in Barangay Pampang at a total contract price of P8,340,326.

On the same day, the parties also entered into a contract agreement for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of one-unit UVHOD at Feeder #2 Pumping Station at Friendship Highway at a total contract price of P6,846,326.

Apparently, Texin, Inc. was able to supply and install the UVHOD equipment and ACWD paid the contract amounts, Lapuz wrote in the complaint-affidavit. 

On Nov. 21, 2018, ACWD decided to enter into a contract agreement for the outsourcing of water treatment services using UVHODS for potable water supply of ACWD with the same supplier, Texin, Inc., represented by its president Glen Flores, at a cost of P3 per cubic meter.

On March 25, 2019, the same parties entered into a service contract for the outsourcing of water treatment services using UVHODS for potable water supply of ACWD at a contract price of P3 per cubic meter with a contract term of 25 years.

Despite the service being rendered by Texin, Inc., the ACWD resumed the use of chlorine as disinfectant in treating its water which is believed to address the requirement of chloring residual of the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water (PNSDW).

 

Findings

Lapuz said the LWUA, “pursuant to the request of Vice Mayor Vicky Vega-Cabigting, citing SP resolution N. 8720-2019…. dispatched on November 28-29, 2019, a LWUA Composite Team to evaluate the said facilities installed at ACWD’s water supply system.”

On Dec. 2, 2019, the team’s initial evaluation report, “determined that the use of UV disinfectant did not undergo initial technical review and evaluation, including post product evaluation to determine product effectiveness, and there was no proper transferring of technology through capacity building of ACWD employees.”

The composite team “further concluded that considering that the application of such UV disinfection facility requires delicate preparation particularly the quality of water being treated, the new breed of UV disinfection installed at ACWD is not suitable considering that the ACWD’s raw water contains Iron, Manganese, TDS, odor and color that are not addressed effectively prior to UV exposure.”

It was found that “the microbial quality of the water after the UV treatment was not completely addressed as laboratory results show the reported significant levels of heterotropic plate count, a key indicator for bacterial regrowth which do not comply with the requirements of 2017 PNSDW.”

The composite team believes that the intended use of the UV as a disinfectant is negated because the presence of mineral contents  that impede the radiation were not adequately removed ;prior to the UV radiation exposure and for such reason ACWD… decided to enter into a memorandum of agreement on Jan. 30, 2019 with Bauer International for the provision of one DMI 65 Water Treatment System for Sapa Libutad Pumping Station which is considered pre-treatment facility needed for water sources with high mineral content. The term of agreement is 24 months with a total contract amount of P7,860,500.

The composite team further believes that the outsourcing of the UVHOD would entail ACWD an estimated annual cost of P32,287,932 plus P4,172,110 per year for chlorine.

“The LWUA Composite Team concludes that ACWD could have achieved a substantial savings of P28,115,821 per year if chlorine only was used as disinfectant and had ACWD conducted a thorough engineering study and post project evaluation on the beneficial use of UV disinfectant.”

 

Unwise

The LWUA said further that “it is unwise for the ACWD to enter into a contract with Texin, Inc. for the outsourcing of UV disinfection for 25 years, which is too long, when in fact the payback period is only 4.21 years, wherein the technology transfer should have been completed.”

“I view of the absence of a thorough engineering study the Composite Team believes that the contract price of P3 per cubic meter of treated water is baseless,” LWUA said.

“We believe that the introduction of UV disinfection for water disinfection alone did not improve the water quality of ACWD but rather additional operation and maintenance cost is irregularly and unnecessarily incurred by ACWD,” the LWUA said.

In the financial audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) for ACWD for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019, it was found out that there was “no feasibility study, cost benefit analysis and needs analysis or historical data for nine projects including the supply, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance of 20 units UVHODS for 20 pumping stations.”

The LWUA, in a letter on Jan. 8, 2020, said it requested the ACWD to share the concept and the study made in relation to the applicability of Hydro-optic UV disinfection together with information on the following: engineering evaluation resulting to recommendation of UV, laboratory results prior to UV introduction, water quality before and after UV disinfection, cost of UV per cubic meter of treated water, and mode of procurement.

However, even up to the present time, the ACWD has yet to reply to the LWUA request, it said.

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