The Baguio Water District (BWD) briefed the city council on the measures being undertaken to mitigate the potential impacts of El Niño on Baguio’s water supply.
Engr. Noriel Calpito, head of the BWD Production and Distribution Division, said they have ongoing several priority projects aimed at augmenting water supply, such as reducing non-revenue water and improving water supply to areas with historically low supply.
Calpito said the BWD had undertaken rehabilitation efforts for open sources like the Sto. Tomas rain basin and the Busol rain basin which significantly contribute to the city’s water supply during periods of scarcity.
He said these two water sources are reserved during increased demand such as the influx of tourists in the city brought about by holidays and large celebrations.
He added efforts to repair leaks and address illegal connections are already being undertaken to minimize water losses from transmission lines particularly along key routes like Camp 6, Kennon Road, and Sto. Tomas.
The BWD, according to Calpito, is also involved in watershed management programs like adopt-a-watershed to protect and restore natural water sources which, in effect, contributes to long-term water sustainability.
Another measure in the works is the conduct of an active information and education campaign to raise public awareness about water conservation and efficient usage.
Calpito said their information dissemination includes tapping official channels like the Baguio City Public Information Office and other social media platforms.
Calpito said the BWD had completed the drilling and commissioning of new wells like the Zigzag Kennon Road well, which is expected to augment water supply along Kennon Road and adjacent areas.
The BWD official assured the members of the city council that BWD has sufficient water production capacity to cater to residential and commercial water connections during peak seasons.
Aside from programs being undertaken in preparation for a possible El Niño, members of the city council also asked about the role of the BWD to regulate private wells in the city.
Calpito said their office reports instances of private deep wells to the National Water Resources Board which conducts its own inspections and submits reports.
However, he said the BWD does not have direct regulatory authority on private extraction.
These challenges in regulating private wells are due to the limited authority of the BWD to enter private premises for inspections, he said.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda mentioned there is a plan to regulate the drilling, maintenance, and operation of private wells through a proposed ordinance.
The proposed measure may outline the roles of the BWD and the barangay officials in policing the operation of deep wells.
While supportive of this move, Calpito said the BWD has limited authority to enter private premises for inspections.
Highlighting the authority of water districts to adopt rules and regulations governing the drilling, maintenance, and operation of deep wells as stipulated under Section 32 of Presidential Decree 198, Councilor Peter Fianza urged the BWD to review its powers comprehensively. – Jordan G. Habbiling