CEBU CITY -- Cebu’s main water distributor is drawing less supply from the Buhisan Dam and, as a precaution, reducing the volume of water provides consumers in two cities.

An official of Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) said the district draws only five percent of the total supply from Buhisan, but is conserving what’s available because the water level has dropped in the midst of a dry spell.

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MCWD is getting only 2,000 to 3,000 cubic meters (cbm) of water a day from Buhisan Dam, compared to the usual 10,000 cbm. Buhisan’s supply is piped in to some 2,000 households in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.

Given the lack of rainfall, the usual allocation of five cbm per household has been reduced to one cbm or about 1,000 liters a day, said Ernie Delco, MCWD’s assistant manager for operations.

Delco said the Buhisan Dam’s water level, which usually hovers at about 27 meters (about 10,000 cbm), has gone down by four meters. He pointed out the lack of heavy rainfall in Cebu since the beginning of the year.

For the Buhisan Dam to provide about 10,000 cbm per day, one or two days of rainfall must occur to fill the dam up.

But while the demand for water keeps rising during the dry season, the supply dwindles.

For now, it’s mostly elevated areas in Cebu City and Mandaue City that are feeling the effects of Buhisan’s water shortage, said Delco.

Five percent of water supply distributed by MCWD comes from the Buhisan Dam.

About 95 percent is supplied by 112 deep wells around Metro Cebu and from a well-field in Jaclupan, Talisay City, which provides about 25,000 cbm per day.

The Jaclupan Diversion Weir is a hybrid well-field, using both underground and surface water.

Astrophel Logarta, MCWD’s manager for production and distribution, said the remaining supply will also be at risk if the El Niño weather phenomenon stretches until the middle of the year.

If the dry spell lasts until May or June, the well-fields in Jaclupan may be vulnerable as surface water is expected to be limited.

However, Delco said that as of now, their office has provided a temporary solution by gradually conserving the available water supply.

MCWD’s Water Resources and Knowledge Center has recommended that while El Niño lingers, the district must reduce water supply from 25,000 to 16,000 cbm.

Delco added that although they are fully implementing the recommendation, they chose to reduce at a gradual rate.

He asked the public to use water wisely and to recycle as much as possible.

The Buhisan Dam, which traps the Labangon River, was completed on November 10, 1911. It formed part of the waterworks system designed by Eusebius Julius Halsema, who was commissioned by the Bureau of Public Works in 1909.

The dam had an original storage capacity of 500,000 cbm. However, it as underutilized for 26 years until it underwent major desilting in 1994. (JKV/Sun.Star Cebu)