Issue of September 2, 2018
     
NEWS
Benguet
Mt. Province
 
OPINION
 

2018
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Private wells deplete Baguio water sources
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

The Baguio Water District warned that Baguio people would wake up someday with all the city’s underground water sources dried up, if the numerous private drilling and deep well operations are not controlled.

Together with the Baguio Regreening Movement, of which the water district is an active member, BWD General Manager Salvador Royeca called for an inventory of private deep wells operating in the city and for the city government to find a way to control its operations, since it has long been hurting BWD’s efforts to improve its services and in closing the gap between water supply and demand.

At the moment, the city requires an average of 55,000 cubic meters of water daily but the water district is only able to supply around 40,000 to 45,000 cubic meters.

The utility firm has launched around P300 million worth of infrastructure projects, massive rehabilitation of distribution systems, and development of new and existing deep wells to close the gap.

However, Royeca said the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) keeps on issuing drilling permits for private deep well operations.

“We always lose when we question these granted applications. Nahihirapan din i-control ng ating LGU dahil ang mandate ay nasa NWRB. Dapat ito ang ayusin natin, paano kokontrolin itong mga private well. Our underground sources are already over-pumped,” he said, adding that while the city has provisions on the issue in its Environment Code, BWD officials are always told that “a local ordinance could not prevail over a national law.”

“We need the city’s and residents’ help. This is becoming a serious problem on our part, especially since these private wells are near our existing deep wells, which greatly affects BWD’s operations,” Royeca said.

Along Ferguson Road alone, Royeca said water supply is gravely affected because there are already many private deep wells in the area, and establishments are built close to BWD wells, reducing the latter’s extraction rate due to turbidity.

“If there is turbidity problem, cavitation occurs, and that’s bad because we will be forced to shut off our deep wells. Nagiging exploration guide kami. Kapag may mga deep wells tayo, tumatabi rito ang mga ibang establishments,” Royeca said.

He said if the city will depend on the actions being undertaken by the NWRB, “we will wake up someday that all our underground sources will be dried up,” especially during summer operations.

BWD also noted the various ongoing constructions of high-rise buildings in the city. “Saan sila kumukuha ng tubig, magdi-drill sila. Kapag walang aquifer sa lugar nila, that’s the time mag-aapply sila ng connection sa BWD,” he said.

He added that the BWD in the past started doing an inventory of these private wells, but the activity did not push through because BWD is not authorized to conduct inventory and NWRB did not approve that BWD be deputized to do so.


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