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Diadi: The Little Town That Could
By Teodoro Reynoso / Photos by Rey Vida

The Diadi town hall features a tilapia-decorated fountain, highlighting the municipality's growing base of income

Diadi, the last town of Nueva Vizcaya bordering Isabela is one of those rustic, laid-back towns that travelers almost unnoticeably pass by on their way to the northern provinces of Cagayan Valley. Its town proper is so small that travelling by bus at night, you won't even notice that you have gone past it except when you have co-travellers who are specifically bound for the place.

Sign of progress amidst Diadi town's very rural setting is evident in this distribution pipe crossing a creek

Physically, there is really nothing perceptibly special or remarkable about the place except for the fact that like the frontier town of Sta. Fe on the Nueva Ecija border, it is mountainous, has lushier and greener environment accounting for cooler temperature especially in the morning and towards the evening. From where we were billeted at the scenic and breath-taking Punta Amelia Resort in nearby Cordon town in Isabela during our recent brief visit, we could immediately feel the change in temperature as soon as we entered the Diadi boundary.

But there is more to its still relatively intact natural environment and its refreshingly cooler ambiance and its friendly and hospitable folk that offers ready smile and helping hand to anyone that would come to visit or stay in Diadi for whatever good purpose it may be.

WELCOME TO CHANGE

Diadi Mayor Norma Miguel leads a municipality whose hardworking population (below) is not averse to change and experimentation

For here is a little, unassuming community that is not averse to change and experimentation. Fact is, its people not only welcome but seem to crave for such, challenged and motivated as they seem to be by the challenge and the expectations.

They demonstrated this when Diadi after almost a decade of trying and striving, finally attained the distinction as the first and only municipality in the whole water-rich province of Nueva Vizcaya to adopt and embrace the water district concept and practice its principles in the development, management, operation and maintenance of its local water supply system.

Some could argue that Diadi was only constrained to adopt the water district concept and system in view of the fact that access to water in the municipality , being upland and mountainous is not as easy as in the lowland communities of the province as the capital town of Bayombong and the booming market town of Solano.

But the comparative difficulty in access to available water sources and resources only serves to even challenge, motivate and fortify the resolve of the fledgling Diadi Water District (DIWAD) and the local government as well as the people of the town to assume a pro-active, forward-looking stance in the development of the local water supply with the end-goal of achieving lasting sustainability and security in this vital element.

Hence, DIWAD now can also be considered as perhaps the first and only small water district in the country that is essentially and practically approaching water supply development not just from the stand point of from water source-to-faucets but from virtually watershed-to-faucets!
It helps that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials and operatives assigned to area, the province and the region are only too well aware of the extreme importance of nurturing, protecting and preserving the watersheds in attaining long-term water source and supply sustainability and security.

It was these DENR authorities together with the corporate social responsibility-conscious people from the National Power Corporation (NPC) operating the local Magat Hydroelectric Power Plant that initiated and played key roles in the bayanihan-type efforts that eventually led to the development of Diadi's first modern water supply system in 2007.

DEVELOPING THE WATER SYSTEM

It was as early as 1997 that the first attempt at developing the Diadi water supply system was started under the then administration of Mayor Norma U. Miguel, incidentally also now the sitting hizzoner, when a technical team from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) came to determine the feasibility and viability of establishing water supply services in the town in accordance with the provision of Provincial Water Utilities Act or the LWUA-Water District Law.

Diadi Water District's elevated steel reservoir, above, and its distribution facility, below

Efforts were made in the ensuing years to come up with cost-effective and financially-sound program to provide for the immediate improvement of the system that resulted to the following:

1. The construction/installation of the water tank/reservoir which was funded by the NPC under the provision of Energy Regulation 1;
2. Source development/Well Drilling that was funded by the Countrywide Development Fund of then Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., and
3. Pipeline component funded by a loan by the Diadi LGU from the Developemnt Bank of the Philippines (LBP) under its LGU Support Credit Program.


On February 13, 2006, the Sangguniang Bayan of Diadi passed a resolution creating the Diadi Water District to provide safe, potable and adequate drinking water supply to residents of the municipality.

The Diadi LGU and the DIWAD forged a Memo of Agreement for the LGU to turn over the watr supply facilities for the operation and management of the water district and to amortize the corresponding LBP loan to the LGU.

DIWAD Chairwoman Rebecca Abella

In June 2006, the DIWAD Board of Directors through the assistance of the LGU's Human Resources Management Office opened the position for the water district's first officially-appointed general manager who turned out to be a young engineer named. Manolito Supnet who at first worked as a volunteer because there was no funds yet for his salary. The DIWAD Board likewise asked then Mayor Marvic Padilla for an office space within the LGU compound. The LGU gave authority for the DIWAD to use a vacant stall located at the nearby public market as temporary office.

On March 2, 2007, the DIWAD requested the DENR through the then Regional Executive Director Clarence L. Baguiat for permit for the water district's use of the abandoned open pit excavation, construction of a 10 meters X 10 meters fenced pumphouse, slope and erosion control riprap and pipeline and power-line right of way in a portion of a lot northwest of the national road within the DENR Experimental Forest Reserve at Barangay Bugnay. Initial survey of the location was conducted with the assistance of the LWUA technical personnel to evaluate the discharge of water from the available spring source during that summer season.

The Diadi Water District Office looks humble, but inside it works employees who have dedicated themselves to service and supported by an expanding base of loyal paying customers (below)

In May 2007, DIWAD started to hire additional people to fill its technical section, particularly the position of pump operator, meter reader/ plumber to work with the LGU in installing the transmission and distribution lines and the service connections and its commercial section to help in the preparation of needed data and documents in establishing the water district. On volunteer status, Joel Ramos was appointed to the technical position while Roanne Marantan and Racquel Dulnuan were appointed as cashier and bookkeeper, respectively. The bookkeeper of the nearby Cordon Water District assisted in the training of DIWAD commercial staff.

Due to the then still minimal collection from the then less than a hundred service connectors, the DIWAD asked the LGU for the continued electric power subsidy until the end of 2007.

By August 2007, GM Supnet received his first salary of P8,000.00 and the three staff were rated on daily basis.

A composite team from the DENR,the LGU and DIWAD headed by DENR Regional Technical Director for Research Wilfredo C. Malvar assessed the requested area in the Experimental Forest Reserve and found out that a bigger area must be allocated for the inclusion of a watershed for development to ensure the sustainability of water supply for the water system project.

On November 22, 2007, an exploration team from LWUA headed by Engr. Romeo M. Diaz together with DIWAD personnel conducted a survey of the possible site of the proposed sedimentation/collection tank and the location of the transmission pipelines.

A handful but dedicated statt

On December 2007, DIWAD availed of P5 million loan from LWUA for additional water sources in the vicinity of Barangay Bugnay to ensure the sustainability of water supply for the growing number of consumers in Barangays Poblacion and Bugnay to include the development of spring and river infiltration structures, construction of treatment and collection tank, laying and installation of transmission and distribution pipelines, Installation of service connection and other appurtenances

On January 3, 2008, DIWAD hired private surveyor to locate the technical description of a 10- hectare lot within the experimental forest reserve located at Barangay Bugnay which is necessary in the establishment of the Memorandum of Agreement between the DENR, the LGU and the Water District.

Part of Diadi's forested land

On January 25, 2008, the DIWAD Board requested Mayor Marvic S. Padilla to permit the LGU-Diadi Bids and Awards Committee as interim Bids and Awards Committee relevant to the DIWAD LWUA-ICG Funded project for the construction of spring source development, sedimentation/collection tank, service connections, pipelines and related works.

On April 3, 2008, the DENR, LGU & DIWAD formally signed a MOA for the 10 hectares watershed area.

The supply of transmission and distribution pipes was awarded to the winning bidder and the excavation and laying of materials was administered by the district and on October 2008, the P5.0M LWUA-ICG Fund project was finished.

On April 27, 2009 the DENR thru its Upland Development Program (UDP) awarded 10 hectares reforestation project to DIWAD within the Ganano Watershed located at Bugnay, Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya adjacent to the previously awarded 10 hectares watershed area.

Because of the heavy rain brought by typhoon Emong last May 8, 2009, the intake spring source was heavily damage and the water supply was shut down for almost a week. The management thru its DIWAD Internal Generated fund rehabilitated the damage river intake to normalized the operation of the district and constructed a 4 stage filtration tank to ensure the safety of the consuming public .

With the occurrence of El Nino Phenomenon in the country from December 2009 to July of 2010 that dried up the spring source and stop the operation of the deepwell source, the DIWAD requested the LWUA for a P2.385M Emergency Calamity Loan for the development of additional water source to mitigate the ill effect of the said El Nino Phenomenon and sustain water service to the 320 active concessionaires. The said Loan was release on April 5, 2010 payable in 10 years which will start on October 2010.

On August 2, 2010. The DENR thru the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office grant the cutting permit to the DIWAD for the G-Melina tress around the new pumping station for the construction of a multi-purpose hall at the Pinagbalitukan watershed area.

Last September, a survey team of the DENR with DIWAD staff, explore the Magat experimental reserve to identify a 30 hectares area for the establishment of an Agroforestry project in the watershed area.

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