THE weather bureau Pagasa announced that the dry spell would continue until August.
Pagasa officer-in-charge Al Quiblat said their forecast is similar to 30 other El Niño forecast models from 30 countries.
He said Cebu and other parts of the country would experience extreme heat in May, describing this month as a critical period.
Even if El Niño continues until August, Quiblat said they expect normal rainfall in June.
Last April 20, Pagasa registered 34.6 degrees Celcius as the hottest temperature in the first four months of 2019.
In 2018, the hottest month was May with average temperatures of 34.5 degrees Celcius.
Quiblat said they expect the temperature to go up to 35 degrees Celcius in the coming days.
In a related development, the increase in demand due to the growing population, in-migration and the drop in the supply of water from sources are the main factors Metro Cebu experiences water shortage during a dry spell.
Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) spokesperson Charmaine Kara admitted that there is a problem, but the water district is doing its part to find solutions.
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera earlier blamed MCWD and the City Government for failing to establish infrastructures that store rain during the wet season.
Kara and MCWD general manager Jose Eugenio Singson Jr. appeared before the City Council during an executive session last Tuesday, April 30, to shed light on the city’s water situation and what they’re doing to address the problem.
Kara said that while they can project demand in the coming years, their projection is 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 450,000 cubic meters a day, but the water district can only serve less than 50 percent of the demand.
Right now, MCWD can only supply 195,000 cubic meters of water daily compared to the 238,000 cubic meters it supplied before the onset of the El Niño.
MCWD serves the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Lapu-Lapu and the towns of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela and Cordova.
Kara said the supply of water from sources, particularly groundwater, had also dropped due to salt water intrusion.
Salt water intrusion is caused by unregulated extraction. The matter, Kara said, is also the reason they are controlling groundwater extraction to avoid salt water intrusion.
Kara said pollution due to nitrate contamination had also affected MCWD’s surface water source.
This year, six wells had to be shut down due to nitrate contamination, she said.
“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,” Kara said.
Nitrate contamination is usually due to wastes from septic tanks and fertilizers.
Water sources of MCWD are mostly groundwater, which comprises 70 percent of its supply. Other sources are surface water (26 percent) and desalination plants (four percent.)
At present, Kara said MCWD is already doing measures to prevent the situation from getting worse, including the construction of infrastructures projects that will help store water, getting additional bulk supply 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.
“Since last year, we’ve been 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,” she said. (RVC, from HBL of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)