MCWD supply further drops

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THE loss of water production of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), largely attributed to soaring heat indexes, has now reached close to 65,000 cubic meters per day.

This as MCWD’s water desalination projects that would have helped ease the problem have yet to begin supplying water following delays experienced due to several factors, including the late approval of MCWD’s excavation permit by the Cebu City Hall for its Mambaling water desalination project.

“Wa gyud mada sa supplier (the supplier couldn’t help it). The delay was not because of the supplier or the contractor, the delay was because it took a long time for the permit to be signed,” said MCWD chairman of the board of directors Jose Daluz III in an interview on Thursday, May 9, 2024.

The Mambaling water desalination project was supposed to start in September 2023.

Daluz said MCWD submitted its application in March 2023, but this was only approved nine months later, in December, when Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama flew to Australia.

He said they requested then acting mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia to approve their pending application.

He said the contractor was only able to start work in January 2024 and was supposed to finish it by March.

In the case of the water desalination project in Barangay Opao, Mandaue, Daluz said the delay was due to the City’s concerns that the excavation would cause traffic congestion in the area, prompting the contractor to look for an alternative way to install the pipes.

Daluz said the two water desalination projects are expected to start operating before the end of May, which would benefit around 50,000 households.

Water deficit

MCWD spokesperson Minerva Gerodias, said the water district is producing 236,223 cubic meters of water, or 21.5 percent less than the usual 301,000 output on normal levels, with a shortfall of 64,777 cubic meters per day.

In a SunStar report last April 26, the water deficit was pegged at 21.1 percent after producing only 237,472 cubic meters of water at the time.

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

Gerodias said among their water sources, Buhisan Dam in Cebu City, which produces 6,000 cubic meters, and the source in Compostela, which should have produced 12,500 cubic meters, remain dried up as they are no longer producing any water output.

Other surface water sources still produce water, said Gerodias, including the Jaclupan wellfield in Talisay City which has an output of 6,669 cubic meters daily compared to its usual 30,000 cubic meters.

Lusaran Hydro’s water production in Cebu City, which serves both Barangay Busay and Pit-os, only produces a total of 6,840 cubic meters from its normal 30,000 cubic meters output.

Only the water supply from the Luyang River in Carmen town has not been affected by the drought, producing 34,857 cubic meters of water daily.

Desalination

Earlier last March, Gerodias said at least 30,000 cubic meters of water from initial deliveries from the three desalination plants were expected to augment the water supply problem starting in April. However, this was met by numerous delays.

The MCWD is now finally expecting an initial delivery of desalinated seawater from one of their suppliers next Friday, May 17, Gerodias said.

She said the desalination plant in Barangay Opao in Mandaue City aims to deliver 10,000 cubic meters of water on May 17 to serve the affected residents amidst the ongoing El Niño phenomenon.

Additionally, the desalination plant in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City, is expected to start its initial deliveries either on the last week of May or the first week of June. It is expected to initially deliver 10,000 cubic meters.

Meanwhile, the desalination plant in Cordova on Mactan Island, which can initially deliver 5,000 cubic meters, is also nearing completion.

Gerodias said they are already running tests at the plant. However, she did not provide a target date.

She said that if these three plants start working, they are expecting around 25,000 cubic meters of initial deliveries of desalinated water.

These are only initial deliveries since the plants in Barangays Mambaling and Opao can each produce 25,000 cubic meters when fully functional, while the plant in Cordova can produce 20,000 cubic meters.

Affected areas

The MCWD has now identified a total of 23 “severely-affected” barangays in Cebu City, Talisay City, and Mandaue City grappling with the depleting water supply, including barangays San Nicolas, Bulacao, Punta Princesa, Pardo, Mambaling, Tisa, Guadalupe and Labangon in Cebu City and barangays Pooc, Tabunok, and San Isidro in Talisay City.

The first 12 severely-affected barangays identified last April 10 were Umapad, Opao, Alang-Alang, Looc and Subangdaku in Mandaue City; Lorega San Miguel, Binaliw, San Jose, Talamban and Pit-os in Cebu City; and Cansojong and San Roque in Talisay City.

Gerodias said water tank deliveries are still ongoing in these areas to ease the water struggles of residents in these identified barangays.

Drought

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas has declared Cebu is currently experiencing drought due to the El Niño phenomenon that is expected to end in June.

El Niño raises sea-surface temperatures, influencing global weather patterns by altering precipitation, temperature, and atmospheric circulation, ultimately resulting in decreased rainfall.

On April 21, Pagasa Visayas weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino said Cebu continues to witness below-average rainfall this month, recording a 93.88 percent decrease from the average.

Cebu has gotten only 3.4 millimeters of rainfall, compared to its usual 55.6 millimeters in April on average. / KJF, JJL

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