DOST assures safe, affordable water to Palawan’s Dumaran Island

Published February 27, 2021, 9:32 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Safe and affordable water has been assured for Palawan’s Dumaran Island following the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-MIMAROPA’s implementation of Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program.

DOST-MIMAROPA said innovative solutions have been put in place to improve access to quality drinking water in remote off-grid communities, especially on the far-flung islands in the physically fragmented region.

“Poblacion, the center and one of the 14 barangays that make up the Dumaran Island, has now secured a reliable drinking water source,” it said in a statement.

Under the CEST program, DOST-MIMAROPA provided a solar-powered purification system in a water refilling station, which is built and managed by the local government unit (LGU) in the area.

Located off the northeastern flank of Palawan, Dumaran Island is not connected to any water line, the DOST-MIMAROPA said.  The island is approximately 34.1 km. from the mainland, and is accessible via pump boat for at least an hour.

“Despite being surrounded by vast expanses of water, 80.14 percent of households in Dumaran have no access to clean water for drinking and sanitation, posing a serious health risk to residents and a threat to the development of the remote island,” it laments.

It noted that families have long struggled to have accessible quality and safe water and for years, most of them fetch water from deep wells, which they then purify using a makeshift filter made from containers, funnel, sand, and charcoal.

“Those who can afford to travel to the mainland to buy purified water from refilling stations spend around P75 for a five-gallon container plus the transportation cost. Some enterprising traders travel for about two hours across the sea to source out potable water from Roxas Water District and sell them inside the island for P40 to P45 per gallon,” DOST-MIMAROPA said.

It said the  DOST’s solar-powered purification system employs two technologies— the solar-powered water pump and the water treatment machine.

“The solar-powered water pump is driven by direct sunlight and has a built-in sensing device to maintain the required volume inside the storage tank. It is best suited for the area since power outages are frequent,” it said.

DOST-MIMAROPA explained that the water treatment machine performs water purification by removing solids and other contaminants in the water using the two-stage reverse osmosis process.

“Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification method that uses pressure to remove ions, large molecules, and other unwanted particles. This membrane-filtration technology harnesses electricity. However, it only consumes little energy, so operating costs are relatively low.”

With the DOST-MIMAROPA’s solar-powered purification system, residents of Brgy. Poblacion in Dumaran now enjoy accessible purified water which was offered for free several months after the installation last year.

“This 2021, a small fee will be collected from residents for the maintenance of the facility and sustenance of its operations.  Since its operation in November 2020, a total of 20,000 liters of purified water has already been produced.”

Dumaran Mayor Arnel Caabay thanked the DOST-MIMAROPA for implementing the project, saying that acquiring water-borne diseases from the unsafe water had been their constant worry on the island for a long time.

DOST-MIMAROPA said it has also  assisted Dumaran in enhancing livelihood opportunities, health and nutrition, education, and public safety in the island via a range of science, technology and innovation (STI) interventions.