May 23, 2024

The city government is hopeful the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) will finally grant its request for authority to regulate deep wells and other water resources in the city.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong last Feb. 6 wrote NWRB OIC Executive Director Ricky Arzadon forwarding documents to support the city’s bid for regulatory powers over deep wells to safeguard its own water resources.

These are City Council Resolution 133-2021 entitled, “Requesting the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to require all water-related activity proponents in the City of Baguio to secure water permit or clearance from the city government prior to the issuance of water permit from its office,” Resolution 308-2019 “Requesting the NWRB to issue a moratorium on the acceptance and issuance of permit to drill and water permits to individuals and entities for water sources in the City of Baguio except for Baguio Water District (BWD),” and the proposed memorandum of agreement for deputation and authorization of the city government and the BWD to act on matters concerning deep wells.

The move was an offshoot of the meeting between the NWRB brass and city officials last Jan. 10 where the city’s water concerns and requests were tackled.

The City Water Resources Board which is spearheading the initiative through City Environment and Parks Management Office Head, Atty. Rhenan Diwas and Asst. Cepmo Head Engr. Marivic Empizo said the NWRB has informed that the city’s concerns will be taken up by the NWRB Board of Directors soon.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong had been negotiating with the NWRB for the grant of regulatory or police power to the city and the BWD saying it would translate to better management of the city’s water resources and address problems on overextraction of water putting the city’s water table in peril.

The city’s inventory of deep wells showed a total of 1,001, most of which are not covered by permits.

The need for local police power over deep wells was also highlighted when the city experienced the diarrhea outbreak last January where the identified cause was contaminated bulk water sources.

It was discovered that most of the over 100 bulk water businesses including deep wells had been operating without permits.

The lack of regulatory powers had hampered the implementation of some of the sanitary measures adopted to ensure water safety and health of the city constituents. – Aileen P. Refuerzo