In Banaue, water system seen solution to feud
BAGUIO CITY—The tourist town of Banaue in Ifugao is developing a water distribution system amid complaints that the water supply of a village there is being controlled by a government-run hotel.
Banaue Mayor Jerry Dalipog said potable spring water in Ifugao is being shared and rationed among villages because water pressure falls during the dry season.
“In Banaue, the discharge rate has dropped from 30 to 40 percent. This was not the case before, but we have determined that this is due to our dwindling forests,” Dalipog told Inquirer on Thursday.
Banaue is home to the Batad Rice Terraces, the most photographed and visited destination of five Ifugao terrace clusters classified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations as a World Heritage Site.
Dalipog said the local government spent up to P40 million to install a main piping system for Banaue in 20 years.
He said the Banaue Water District would operate this year. He said the district’s application for a franchise at the Local Water Utilities Administration is pending and the next step would be to finance the system that would connect the district’s main pipeline to 21,448 end users.
He said the start of the water district’s operations could resolve complaints aired against the government-run Banaue Hotel, which is overseen by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), because it alone has water distribution facilities in the area.
Banaue Hotel draws water from a reservoir from natural spring, called Sumigar, 18 kilometers away. Dalipog said the Banaue water utility intends to tap water from the same source.
But a complaint sent by e-mail to Tieza and various newspapers on Monday said Banaue Hotel controls the water supply of Sitio Iloque and Barangay Tam-an.
The complaint, which was signed by an unidentified Banaue resident, said the Banaue Hotel gave “strict orders or instruction to turn [off] the water supply valves [of the hotel, that distributes water] to all [houses in] Tam-an and Iloque.”
This order, the complaint said, was issued on Sept. 26, 2011.
“We are tired of being in the mercy of your management and suffering the inconvenience of not having regular water supply which [is free and given by nature],” the complaint said.
Dalipog said some households around the hotel compound have tapped illegally into the water system and hotel management tolerates them except during the dry season when tourist arrivals pick up.
“The hotel needs to serve its clients so they manually pull out the illegal connections from the water line. The households have understood this cycle because they later restore their connections at the end of the tourist season,” he said.
In a statement sent by e-mail, the Banaue Hotel said its Sumigar reservoir “was [built] to supply a 20-room hotel with a restaurant [but] as years went by, the hotel has been expanding with additional rooms necessitating the construction of additional water tanks.” Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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