MCWD: Limited sources, growing demand aggravating water shortage

ASIDE from decreasing water supplies, an increase in demand for water due to a growing population and in-migration are some of the main factors why some areas in Metro Cebu experience water shortages during dry spells, an official said on Wednesday, May 1.

Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) spokesperson Charmaine Kara admitted that there is really a problem when it comes to the water supply in the city, but the water district is already doing its part to find solutions.

Earlier, Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera earlier blamed MCWD and the city government for the failure to establish infrastructures to help store rainwater during the wet season.

Kara and MCWD general manager Jose Eugenio Singson Jr. appeared before the City Council on Tuesday, April 30, to shed light on the city’s water situation and the measures they have made to address the water shortage.

Kara said that while they can project the demand in the coming years, projection is just based on expected population.

“We have no control over in-migration or the people coming to the city because of business and employment opportunity,” she said.

The current demand in MCWD's franchise area is at 450,000 cubic meters a day but they can only served less than 50 percent of the demand.

Right now, MCWD can only supply 195,000 cbm per day compared to the 238,000 cbm/daily before the onset of the weak El Niño.

MCWD serves the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Lapu-Lapu and the towns of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela and Cordova.

Apart from it, Kara said there is also a decrease in the supply of water from their sources, particularly those they get from ground water.

Kara said groundwater sources are usually affected whenever there is a dry spell, due to salt water intrusion.

Salt water intrusion is caused by unregulated extraction from different parts in the city.

Due to this, MCWD has taken steps to control the indiscriminate ground water extraction to avoid salt water intrusion.

Aside from salt water intrusion, Kara said pollution due to the nitrate contamination also affected the surface water source of MCWD.

This year, six wells were already shut down due to nitrate contamination.

“Ideally, the normal nitrate rate in a water source is only 50 milligrams per liter but once it goes beyond that, we need to shut down that well already,” Kara said.

Nitrate contamination usually happens when wastes from the septic tanks and fertilizers contaminate water sources, particularyl groundwater sources.

Water sources of MCWD are mostly groundwater, which comprises 70 percent of its supply.

Other sources are surface water which is only 26 percent of their supply and desalination plants which only comprises four percent.

At present, Kara said MCWD is already doing measures to prevent the situation from getting worse including the construction of infrastructures projects which will help store water, getting additional bulk supply from private water suppliers and addressing the cause of water pollution.

MCWD is set to build a desalination plant in Lapu-Lapu City and start the construction of the Mananga Dam to add to Metro Cebu’s existing water supply sources.

The two projects are expected to supply an additional 200,000 cubic meters of water every day.

As to the nitrate contamination, Kara said they already have a septage management plan for it.

“Since last year, we're already successful in removing nitrate but we spent P3.5 per cubic meter additional expenses in treating nitrate- contaminated water. We were able to treat 1,000 cubic meters of water last year,” Kara added. (RVC)


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