Schoolkids and residents in Iloilo City have been drinking well water which, they claim, is unusually sweet —and flammable.
In Sta. Barbara Central Elementary School in Iloilo City, students —as well as their teachers and parents— were surprised to find that their artesian wells (poso) contain flammable water. Sta. Barbara residents get their drinking water from these wells.
Sta. Barbara is a second-class municipality in Iloilo, Western Visayas.
In an interview with GMA News, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag strongly urged people not to drink the water, pending further tests.
“Huwag n’yo muna inumin iyan. Tutal may magagawa naman tayong mga test. This thing fascinates people…” Tayag said.
Tayag added that similar cases of flammable water have also been reported in the United States. Methane —a naturally-occurring combustible gas— was the culprit in these cases: it seeped into the porous rocks under the wells, where it mixed with the water.
The artesian wells in Sta. Barbara were built in the 1970’s to supply potable water to the town. According to the residents, no cases of chemical contamination or water-borne diseases have ever been reported from the wells.
In a July 27 report on State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, the water was shown to have a different color, odor, and taste from regular water.
Students at Sta. Barbara drink the water for its sweetness, based on the report.
A study found that water from seven of the eleven wells in Sta. Barbara, including the one in the school, were not safe for drinking.
One of the teachers, Cynthia Jualayba, said that they had to stop taking water from their well to avoid the dangers it could pose.
In 2008, residents also found flammable water from a deep well in Albay province. Some residents of the area used the deep well water for cooking but it was later destroyed by typhoons. — TJD