CEBU City’s mountain barangays are the hardest hit by the dry spell, and City Hall is rushing the purchase of hoses and drums to help residents cope.

Councilor Jose Daluz III said he asked that the bidding for the procurement of P5 million worth of hoses and P2 million worth of drums or barrels be done this week.

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City Hall needs to buy the supplies before March 26, when the ban on the release, disbursement or expenditure of public funds for public works will take effect.

“Nag-apas man gud ta nga dili maabtan sa March 26, dili na unya ta kapalit, saying wala’y magamit ang mga barangays (We want to beat the March 26 deadline, otherwise we may not be able to buy the supplies and the barangays will have nothing to use),” said Daluz, who pointed out the ban will only be lifted in June.

Meanwhile, the Talisay City Government requested the local office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to assess which areas are vulnerable to the dry spell.

Talisay City Administrator Richel Bacaltos said that as of last week, the DA was still processing its data. He hopes the study’s results can be revealed today.

As of yesterday, water supply shortage affected Nivel Hills in Barangay Lahug in Cebu City, Barangay Sudlon in Mandaue City and parts of Barangay Lagtang in Talisay City.

This is one of the effects of a reduced water supply from the Buhisan Dam, whose levels have dropped in recent weeks, said the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).

Buhisan’s contribution to MCWD’s total supply has been reduced to 2,000 to 3,000 cubic meters (cbm) per day, instead of 10,000. The dam accounts for five percent of the district’s supply.

Two of the three affected areas yesterday lack water booster stations, which create enough pressure to push water to elevated areas, said Ernie Delco, MCWD’s assistant general manager for operations.

Water supply in Cebu City is expected to dwindle in the summer, compounded by the dry spell caused by El Niño.

“Unya ang unang maigo gyud ana ang bukid man. Maong kung magpadayon pa ni hangtud katapusan sa Marso, maglisod na gyud sila (Those in the mountain barangays will be hit first.

If this lasts until the end of March, they will really have a hard time),” said Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president Eugenio Faelnar.

He again reminded the village chiefs to identify and submit to the City Government the locations of possible sources of water. He was in Barangay Sapangdaku yesterday to scout for a site where a reservoir could be set up.

City Hall will try to help by providing supplies like hoses and barrels, but must purchase these before March 26.

In Resolution 8732, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) stated that from March 26 to May 10, “no public official or employee including barangay officials…shall release, disburse or expend any public funds for any and all kinds of public works.”

The City Council approved the allocation for the purchase of hoses and drums last Friday, but acquisition takes time.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña recently said he sees “no major problem” as far as the urban areas of the city are concerned.

Those affected by El Niño, he said, are the farming communities, but the City Government is helping them by providing hoses and pumps.

“There are guys looking into it… I’m not going to hit the panic button,” Osmeña said.

The mayor said surface water is just one source in the city, where deep wells are common.

Drillings are also being done in a few barangays of the city to extract water that will be sold to the Metro Cebu Water District for city constituents.

In case El Niño is prolonged, MCWD has also arranged for its bulk suppliers to provide an additional 2,000 cbm per day.

These bulk suppliers, Delco explained, depend on groundwater and have told MCWD they were willing to provide the necessary additional supply.

“We are assuring our consumers that we will maintain a 24-hour supply of water,” said Delco. (RHM/JKV)