The local governments of Baguio City and Tuba and Itogon in Benguet have joined hands to protect and preserve the Bued River water system with the support of a project implemented by the University of the Cordilleras and funded by the Department of Science and Technology.
The Project Danum-Decision Support and Nurturing Management of Watersheds aims to provide LGUs, line agencies, and communities a technology-enhanced information and decision support system to conserve and protect the rivers and watersheds of the Cordillera.
The project focuses in the integration of appropriate technologies and transforming these as tools for watershed management.
Its activities include studies on transformations of watersheds, watershed land use models, and inclusively developed and technology enhanced watershed decision support system.
For the LGUs of Baguio, Tuba and Itogon, the project is focusing on the Bued River, whose headwaters originates in the city covering 25 barangays then flows to Tuba, some parts of Itogon, then towards Pangasinan and some parts of La Union.
Project Danum, funded particularly under the National Research Council of the Philippines of DOST, was turned over to the three LGUs in a ceremony at the DENR compound on May 30.
Engr. Nathaniel Vincent Lubrica, project team leader, said results of studies made under the project gave way to recommendations in the crafting of the Bued River watershed management plan.
It includes recommended technologies and use of these technologies in watershed management, such as sensors to determine the health of watersheds in real time and to provide farmers and the community respective data and warnings when there are exigencies in the environment.
The Bued River is occasionally dredged for being heavily silted as it has been the drainage of mine tailings from mines in Benguet. Landslides along Kennon Road and soil erosions also contribute to its siltation.
Lubrica said their findings on watershed management planning considered rural development, by employing participatory approach where inputs from stakeholders in concerned communities are incorporated in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of the watershed management plan.
Punong Barangay Allan Bayninan of Twin Peaks, Tuba said the project is a big help for them in adapting with the effects of climate change on water supply.
He said though usually overflowing, water supply in their area dries out in the summer and this they hope would be addressed through the project.
Reynold Rhoda, who represented Itogon Mayor Bernard Waclin, said the project reminds the concerned LGUs to safeguard their water resources.
He hopes through the project, titling of water resources and forest reserves and allowing farmers to operate in these areas would be addressed.
Camp 3, Tuba Kagawad Bernardo Sabelo acknowledged the project team for engaging them in the barangay by inspecting and seeing the actual situation on ground to come up with suitable solutions to concerns, such as when calamities strike and how to address the siltation of the river.
For Baguio, Engr. Wilbur Suanding thanked Project Danum for having partnered with LGUs especially on introducing researches and methods of water quality management to the city and adjoining municipalities as it will make constituents in the area be more aware of what is happening to water resources, since most still do not know its importance and some see it as a disposal area.
Data gathered through the project will serve as a guiding tool for decision-makers in crafting measures for the Bued River.
While employing technologies, Lubrica said Project Danum highlights the support of LGU partners who assist them on field and whose knowledge cannot be replaced by science.
“We highlight on the knowledge of people on the field. We (cannot discount) that understanding that if the water level rises, they know there is erosion upstream, so we need to consider this, as there are things we can’t compute scientifically but there is still the strength of the knowledge of the stakeholders which we were able to capture in Project Danum and use it for good programs and plans,” he said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana