Baguio to face water crisis by 2025

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Saturday, December 17, 2011


THE diminishing water supply is what stakeholders and experts identified as one of Baguio City’s major problems.

Both the business community and a recent joint study of World Wildlife Fund- BPI Foundation showed Baguio city would not sustain its growth economically without enough resources, particularly water, with a projection of the biggest water deficit in the country outside of Metro Manila by 2025.

Baguio-Benguet Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Marciano Garcia, in a recent Philippine Economic Briefing held at Baguio Country Club, said authorities need to address the unstable water supply in order for business to flourish in the Summer Capital.

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He claimed the Baguio Water District only supplies 25 percent of the current needs of residents while businesses experience water rationing conducted by the water distributor for only a few hours a day.

Other barangays, he said, do not enjoy daily water supply and are only supplied three times a week.

The WWF-BPI’s Business Risk Assessment and Management of Climate Change Impacts study also showed out of the six identified watersheds, two have already been rendered inoperable due to the unregulated influx of informal settlers.

The study revealed, utilizing groundwater pumped from the city’s six aquifers, despite a 40 percent systems loss, renders the current supply of 50,000 cubic meters inadequate to meet the weekday demand of 30,000 cubic meters daily.

On weekends, this insatiable thirst for water becomes more drastic as it increases to 80,000 cubic meters.

“In five years, [water demand] is expected to exceed 100,000 CMD on weekends. By 2025, Baguio City will likely have the largest water deficit outside Metro-Manila,” the study revealed.

World Wildlife Fund executive director Jose Lorenzo Tan suggested for the city to tap rain water as a major source of water supply since Baguio is expected to get a significant amount of rainfall due to climate change.

“The problem with Baguio, the water from rainfall is not utilized efficiently with most of it going underground and are run-off in tributaries which is harder to tap and use,” he said.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan agrees this is indeed one of the pressing problems of the city.

The mayor said however this is not the city’s problem alone.

According to the mayor he called a meeting with other towns comprising BLISTT to identify areas where the bulk water supply comes from as this should be declared as watersheds to protect future supplies from decreasing.

Since the 1990s, he claimed the city has been signatory to agreement with BLISTT towns to identify these potable water sources wherever they are located.
This however should be in accordance with conditions communities of these water sources should be served first; water dues should be paid to local government units where these water sources are located; and surplus water will be given to adjoining communities.

He claimed the water sources of the city remain 75 percent from ground water, 20 percent from the Buyog and Busol watersheds while the remaining 5 percent comes from Sto. Tomas catch basin.

But this supply he said is not enough as several barangays are still availing of water delivery services costing more than P120 per delivery, which he said is too much.

He also expressed disappointment on the failed sourcing of bulk water supply from Benguet Corporation years back because this, too, has been politicized.

“We should learn a lesson from that. At this point we should help each other so that we can come up with immediate solutions to our water problems,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 17, 2011.

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