Baguio wants to freeze water drill applications
BAGUIO CITY—The city council on Monday approved a resolution urging the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to freeze applications to drill for water or exploit private water resources to give Baguio’s aquifers time to recharge.
Water has been rationed for the past 30 years in this city, which has also requested for a moratorium on tree-cutting and building constructions.
Not all of the city’s 350,000 residents are served by the Baguio Water District (BWD), which regulates the distribution of a little over 40 million liters (40,000 cubic meters) of water a day.
Consumption demand is 54 million liters per day. Water supply is stretched at daytime during weekdays when the population reaches over 700,000 people due to transient employees, students and entrepreneurs.
Baguio receives the highest rainfall in the country, which the American colonial government harnessed using a rain basin at Mt. Sto. Tomas.
More rain harvesting facilities have been proposed in other parts of the city to address the sudden migration increases recorded shortly after Baguio’s restoration following the 1990 Luzon earthquake.
The BWD taps the rain basin during summer but relies heavily on ground and spring water to serve 122 of the city’s 128 villages.
According to the council resolution, “the proliferation of private deep wells and their sustained groundwater pumping” has taxed the aquifers.
It said the NWRB has processed 53 applications from 2016 to September this year, for which reduced groundwater activity has been blamed.
During a Baguio land summit held on Sept. 13, the water supply issues affected by overpopulation had been described as “critical” by Salvador Royeca, the BWD general manager.
According to a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Baguio, the city’s lack of a constant water service for most households has made them adopt a “water scarce lifestyle” characterized by collecting rainwater from house gutters or by adjusting their schedules around days and the time for their rationed water to be released.
“In many places, BWD releases water late at night or during the early hours in the morning, causing residents some inconvenience,” the study said. —VINCENT CABREZA
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