April 14, 2024

■  Hanna C. Lacsamana

With the continuous increase in demand for water supply in this tourist city, the Baguio Water District is going full blast in its drilling and exploration for possible water sources to secure supply for close to 50,000 consumers.

Aside from the extensive exploration and pipe-laying activities, the BWD is also considering unsolicited proposals to supply bulk water made by two Benguet-based firms, which is currently discussed with the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

BWD General Manager Engr. Salvador Royeca said simultaneous water drillings and explorations are ongoing as they target 10 deepwells to be successfully explored annually.

At present, BWD’s focus is on addressing problematic areas on higher elevation, such as upper Pinget, Guisad, Quezon Hill, Holyghost, Quirino Hill, and portions of Marcos Highway.

Augmentation is ongoing for areas that do not receive enough supply due to drying spring sources and deepwells. BWD has activated water sources in several points to supply higher areas that really do not have sources and where water pressure is low.

“Supply is really difficult in some areas, because these really do not have sources, so we have to pump sources from other areas. But this is only in the problem areas, for which indeed we receive complaints that we act on, pero hindi naman pangkalahatan because we are doing our best to have available water supply as much as possible,” Royeca said in an interview on March 26.

BWD has numerous targets for explorations with the assistance with of the city government in terms of acquisition of water drilling sites, which sometimes is a challenge.

“We have to do it fast, because we all are aware of the growth of the city Baguio, especially during long weekends where water supply demand increases further,” he said.

For now, Royeca said indeed the city’s water sources are critical and though BWD has several successful explorations that have improved supply, supply is not how it used to be, especially in the elevated areas.

BWD is also currently using harvested water reserve which it started tapping into this month. “This is a big help and we project it can be used until the rainy season but we are using it sparingly to augment supply.”

Royeca also said BWD has received proposals for bulk water supply from two firms both based in Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet – Celestial Rain Corp. and HNJ General Construction – which may allow the BWD to increase its service area, which is currently around 80 percent of the city.

He said discussions are in the works, as the move, if adopted, would require BWD to increase the tariff above the minimum rate that is charged on consumers, which needs approval by the LWUA.

The proposals will also have to undergo public hearings.

“We are considering it because we badly need it. We would like to have more surplus water, aside from our expansion programs. Remember we are not yet totally supplying the whole Baguio, 80 percent lang ang nakikita naming covered ng BWD. So if we have to cover the other 20 percent including those within the periphery of the city, we have to increase production,” he said.