There’s more to DCWD than water

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By Jun Ledesma

Sunbursts

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


THE mandate of our Davao City Water District is to provide potable water to the city consumers. Every now and then it gets some flak from the public and even from some members of the city council. DCWD in fact, under its Board Chairman Ed Bangayan and the present management, is quite responsive to complaints and other issues. It has gone beyond its mandate in that it is deeply involved in environmental concerns.

At this time when a wide swath of our forest lands had been raped by logging concessionaires and corporate farms had taken over and are now intruding even in the natural springs of Tamugan and Panigan rivers one cannot just dismiss the threat that someday our surface waters and waters from our aquifers will ultimately run dry.

Reforesting the watersheds or the recharge areas of aquifers and rivers should rest primarily with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources but DCWD cannot just watch akimbo and allow the undeterred cultivation of slopes next to the river banks to give way to Cavendish bananas. DCWD therefore has gone the length of organizing environment watchdogs and for their cooperation provide them with seedling of cacao and coffee trees. In fact it has maintained a nursery for this purpose. In Panigan and in Tambobong barangays for example, the district has community workers who supervise agro-forestry projects.

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One of the noteworthy reforestation projects was done by DCWD in cooperation with San Miguel Corporation Foundation. It involves P1.1-million and covered an aggregate area of 500 hectares. On its own, DCWD provided rubber tree seedlings for a tribal cooperative in Tambobong. About 30 of the 50 hectares planted by the coop in upper Tambobong are ready for tapping.

Since I joined the DCWD board I personally sought assistance from our local corporate decision makers to help in the restoration of forest covers in the watershed areas. The mistake in the past was that important watershed areas were declared alienable disposable and these were titled. Until the subject of “climate change” and “environmental degradation” became part of man’s consciousness did government regulators look into the extent of the damage in our ecological system. Add to that the unbridled expansion of some banana plantations even in the critical watershed areas and we have a real problem to deal with. Sumifru for example, must be stopped from further destroying whatever remains of the forest cover in Tambobong. They should cease from inveigling lumads from leasing their lands or making them contract growers. They ought to uproot the banana seedlings while these are yet young. There will be no compromises here. If at all, what is acceptable in these parts is agro-forest.

Corporate farms which have not breached into the critical watersheds should help in restoring forest cover of Panigan and Tamugan. To be strict about it, many of these plantations are in areas which are veritable recharge areas of our important aquifers like those in Dumoy. To their credit, some of them have planted trees that act as buffer zone between the ridges and plantation areas. But they can do more than that by partnering with communities living in critical watershed areas to plant cacao and coffee in the slopes that lead to the rivers of Panigan and Tamogan and for that matter other rivers and tributaries that play vital role in our environment. They can partner with DCWD for your water district is more focused in this.

But why Tamugan and Panigan? I cannot stress enough the importance of these rivers in the supply of potable water in Davao City. With the exponential growth of population and commercial and industrial establishments in our city, the DCWD Board is looking how in the next two or three decades after the potable water supply will be. This twin river is our important resource. If we are not going to guard it we will be blamed by the future generations for not conserving and rehabilitating it while we have the opportunity.

The investment of DCWD to tap these rivers will amount to a couple of billion pesos more or less. This is solely for the new network of distribution pipes and reservoirs and treatment facilities to name a few. Water will be supplied to existing systems and to areas in the north that have inadequate water not to mention the not-too-ideal quality of water even as this is potable. Because water from Tamugan and Panigan will flow by gravity, it is likely that after the capitalization is recovered this will bring down the cost if not a stabilized cost for us consumers in the future. The public is not aware, but already DCWD has conducted technical surveys where distribution pipes and series of reservoirs will be located. By late 2017, and by God’s grace, every home in every growth centers in the city will have water the quality of which is one of the best, if not the best in the world.

These prospects are in the works while on the side, DCWD will continue helping communities in the hinterlands. We help save water and take the lead in forest conservation and rehabilitation. How about partnering with DCWD?

*****

(For comment and reaction: sledjr@gmail.com.)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 04, 2014.

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