December 10, 2022

Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Baguio Water District General Manager Salvador Royeca met with officials of the National Water Resources Board on Feb. 11 to thresh out matters regarding the long-standing request of BWD to be authorized to regulate water extraction.
In the Water Code of Baguio passed in 2007, private deep well operators are required to seek clearance from the City Water Resources Board and the BWD prior to submission of application to the NWRB.
The Water Code also requires accreditation of water well drillers, annual verification of water sources and extractors and water distributors. 
Despite the ordinance, Royeca said private companies continue to drill, sometimes without permit, while others were issued a permit from the NWRB despite opposition of the BWD.
With NWRB being the sole government agency authorized to manage and regulate water resources in the country, Royeca said BWD is powerless in stopping the operation or even in monitoring unregistered private deep well operations.
BWD has listed around 500 unregistered deep well operators but he said there could be more if its list would be updated.
Included in the BWD’s proposals is the issuance of a moratorium on the acceptance of permit to drill and water permit applications to individuals and entities.
This aims to conserve and protect aquifers which are in danger of drying out due to uncontrolled tapping.
Royeca said the effect is being felt now as shown by declining recharging capacity and yield of the BWD-operated deep wells.
In his Feb. 9 meeting with his department heads, Magalong had expressed support to the BWD’s causes, saying the proposed reforms would translate to better management of the city’s water resources.
He said it is also high time to invoke the city’s Water Code, which mandates localized control over water facilities in keeping with the spirit of local government autonomy.
The six recommendations are for the NWRB to devolve to the BWD the authority to issue water permit applications in its own jurisdiction for regulation and monitoring purposes. If deputation is not feasible at this time, police power be granted for the BWD to conduct and undertake inspection of private deep wells in Baguio and to issue cease and desist orders on unpermitted water extractions.
The BWD also proposes to install production meters on the private deep wells and to impose production assessment charges.
BWD also recommends that it be involved in the approval of water permits for those sources within the jurisdiction and authorize the BWD to monitor and regulate the rate of water extraction of permitted private deep wells in Baguio, and for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to strictly regulate and control uphill gardening surrounding the Sto. Tomas rain basin to protect the quality of stored water at the impounding structure.
BWD is serving 122 barangays with 44,326 active connections as of December 2020, 75 pumping stations including 56 deep wells, four open sources, and two rainwater harvesting facilities.
Supply forecast for 2021 is at 46,934.49 cubic meters (m3) daily and demand forecast at 41,032.25m3 daily. – Rimaliza A. Opiña and Aileen P. Refuerzo