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‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Michaela Jaycel L. Dolores, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag, Sheila Mae Gumapon, Victor Anthony V. Silva April 08,2016 - 11:29 PM

BUHISAN DAM-EL NINO/APRIL 07,2016: MCWD Security guard walks on the parched earth inside the Buhisan Dam while the El Nino spell intesifies.(CDN PHOTO/FERDINAND EDRALIN)

A lone Metropolitan Cebu Water District security guard walks on the parched ground inside the Buhisan Dam in Barangay Buhisan, Cebu City. (CDN PHOTO/FERDINAND EDRALIN)

Mayor Michael Rama yesterday placed Cebu City under a “state of emergency” following an emergency meeting with concerned officials where it was affirmed that the city is now faced with a water crisis.

In Cebu province, mayors of vegetable-producing towns of Oslob, Dalaguete and Alegria in southern Cebu were likewise considering placing their respective areas under a state of calamity amid a decrease in agricultural production last month as water supply dropped.

The Cebu Water Crisis Response Group (CWCRG) meanwhile urged persons or entities who have private wells to share their excess water for free to the public, a move now being done by at least three water companies, which are giving away up to 30 liters of water a day per household, in designated 15 pickup points across Metro Cebu. (see list)

With the projection from the state weather bureau that the dry spell might continue until May or June, Rama said “there will definitely be a water crisis” in Cebu City and province.

The “state of emergency” declaration will enable City Hall to quickly address the needs of mostly upland villages that are now faced with water shortage, Rama told reporters.

Rama announced the declaration following a meeting with representatives from the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC), private water suppliers and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

According to Rama, the state of emergency declaration will be formalized by the CCDRRMC in order to facilitate the use of the city’s disaster funds. Among the immediate plans discussed in the meeting would be for the city government to purchase water hoses and water tanks to deliver water to mountainous areas that could not be reached by MCWD.

Rama said bulk water suppliers like the Pilipinas Water Resources Inc. (PWRI), which produces around 10,000 cubic meters of water per day, are being eyed to augment MCWD’s dwindling supply.

MCWD, in a statement yesterday, said it would purchase more bulk water to replace that which could no longer be supplied by the Jaclupan and Buhisan dams, which have both dried up.

The additional volume is expected to benefit almost 11,000 households affected by the low water supply in Metro Cebu, it added.

MCWD would purchase close to 10,000 cubic meters of water per day within this month from their bulk suppliers to address the shortage, said

MCWD public relations manager Charmaine Rodriguez-Kara in an interview yesterday.

An additional 7,000 cu.m of water per day will be coursed to Barangay Cabancalan in Mandaue City by the Abejo Waters Corp. (AWC). Another 1,200 cu.m per day, also from AWC, would be provided to Barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City, on top of the 4,000 cu.m per day already supplied by the company in the area, MCWD said.

Another 1,200 cu. m. per day will also be added into MCWD’s distribution lines in Mandaue City via its in-house facility, the Mandaue 1 well.

But an AWC well in Barangay Apas, Cebu City has dried up, resulting to the loss of some 300 cu.m. of water that is now affecting residents in elevated areas of the barangay. As a result, MCWD said these areas would only have water supply on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays until the well’s production would improve.

Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman said among the sitios hit by water shortage were Mahayahay, Plaza, Fatima, Grotto, Back GMA, Calvary, Panabang, Sto. Niño and Citylights.

Another MCWD private bulk water supplier also reported that its pump was being repaired, resulting to an additional loss of 1,412 cu. m. of water per day and affecting consumers in the interior portions of Talisay City and Barangays Inayawan, Basak San Nicolas, Mambaling, Duljo-Fatima and Pasil in Cebu City. These areas have been experiencing low pressure to no water supply.

Kara reiterated the call for consumers to store as much water as possible to mitigate the impact of the lack of water supply. But she stressed there was still no need to ration water, explaining that MCWD would only resort to rationing if, aside from low water pressure, an area would be affected by scheduled pipe leak repairs or upgrading.

WATER RATIONING

In Dalaguete, Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante said he would be endorsing to the municipal council a recommendation to place the town under a state of calamity so they could broaden the scope of their intervention amid the dry spell.

“However, we are prepared. We are ready to give food assistance like rice and potable water, but we need additional funds for water support like hoses and plastic drums,” he said by phone yesterday.

The mayor said the town currently has 1,000 sacks of rice in stock.

He added that while the town has experienced a 25 to 30 percent decrease in vegetable production due to the dry spell, they have yet to resort to water rationing.

Cesante said they were only supplying water to highland establishments like their tourist information center leading to Osmeña Peak and the upland utilities like the public market and vegetable trading centers in Barangays Mantalongon and Caleriohan.

Cesante earlier said that water levels in the town’s various springs have dropped by 10 percent and that at least 8,000 farming families were affected by the dry spell.

Oslob Mayor Ronald Guaren, meanwhile, said they have began rationing water from the Mainit Springs to the affected residents, especially in Barangay Poblacion.

“Last week, we only provided water two to three times a week. This week, we are compelled to ration water every day due to the low water pressure,” he told CDN in a separate interview.

Guaren said a declaration of a state of calamity over the town would be needed to expedite the process of buying plastic drums for the residents to store water in.

The mayor said they would also need quick access to the town’s calamity funds to purchase food assistance for affected residents.

Alegria Mayor Verna Magallon, on the other hand, said the whole municipality has been experiencing low water pressure since last month, with potable water now being rationed to the coastal villages of Sta. Filomina and Madridejos.

“Water is scarce and the crops are dying,” Magallon said in a separate interview.

She said was considering placing the town under a state of calamity, but she was doubtful it would be approved since majority of the town councilors are allied with the Garcia-led One Cebu.

“We will just wait for the advice of the governor,” she said.

Gov. Hilario Davide III earlier said he was also mulling over declaring a state of calamity over the whole province. The Capitol currently has P34 million set aside for quick response.

FREE WATER

Members of the CWCRG meanwhile urged the private sector to assist local governments in addressing the water-shortage problem in Cebu.

PWRI, along with Mactan Rock Industries Inc. and Aquapure Resources Inc., have been giving away their excess water since March 22, said PWRI president Antonio Tompar, a member of CWCRG.

He said they identified 15 places in Metro Cebu as pick-up points where the public could ask for water. Each household can ask for up to 30 liters a day, he said.

Tompar said the free water was the excess production of their water-purifying plants. Each plant can save up to 20 to 25 percent of excess water in a day.

MCWD, on Thursday, announced that at least 44 areas in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Liloan town would have low pressure or water supply daily, between 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. This after MCWD’s water supply dropped from 214,000 cu.m. to 194,000 cu.m. a day.

MCWD supplies water to about 170,000 concessionaires in Metro Cebu.

By next week, however, Cebu could expect some light to moderate rain due to a low pressure area that is expected to affect Cebu, said Oscar Tabada,

chief of Pagasa Visayas.

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TAGS: El Niño, MCWD, state of emergency

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