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Zamboanga City starts water rationing due to El Niño

/ 09:32 AM January 08, 2016

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Zamboanga City Water District said it has started a 12-hour rationing daily as the El Niño phenomenon, which has been seen to intensify this year, has rapidly drained its main water sources.

At least half of the city’s 98 barangays (villages) are waterless for half a day on a daily basis because of the rationing scheme, which started Friday, according to Leonardo Ray Vasquez, ZCWD general manager, said at

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This means that about half of the city’s 72,000 water consumers will not be having a full day’s supply of water until the situation returns to normal.

“The El Niño is draining our rivers so fast,” he said.

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Vasquez explained that ZCWD has been relying on river water, particularly on the Pasonanca River, to provide drinking water to its consumers here.

“The water district gets water from the river, we clean, we treat (the water drawn from there) and give it to our people. The problem now is our rivers are drying up and all we get is seepage water,” Vasquez said.

He said based on latest monitoring, the water level at the ZCWD’s Pasonanca River dam has gone down to as low as 71.10 meters. The ZCWD, he said, has set a normal operating level of at least 74.20 meters.

“As the water level has gone down to 74.10 meters, the situation is very critical so we need to impose water rationing,” Vasquez said.

He said the drizzles being experienced in the city despite the extreme weather condition have not been enough to push up the water level at the dam.

Maribel Enriquez, chief meteorologist at the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) station here, said the current dry spell has been akin to the ones experienced in 1995, 1997 and 1998.

“There will be no rainfall for about four months,” Enriquez said.

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She said in November 2015, the city was supposed to experience 120.6 millimeters of rainfall based on normal weather conditions.

“But we only recorded 66.4 mm. In December 2015, the rainfall volume based on normal conditions was supposed to be 66.8 mm but the actual rainfall volume monitored was just 7.9 mm,” Enriquez said.

This month, she said the rainfall volume was supposed to be 49.7 mm but by all indications, it could not be more than 1 mm.

“It’s very alarming and we see more dry days especially in February,” Enriquez said.

In North Cotabato, the dry spell also continues to devastate farmlands as water sources there have been drying up too.

North Cotabato Provincial Agriculturist Eliseo Mangliwan said they have advised farmers to conduct manual watering of their farms to prevent their crops from wilting.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said they have set aside funds for cloud seeding operations should the condition worsen.

At least 100 sorties, which are hoped to help farmers survive the El Niño, will be conducted, according to Taliño-Mendoza.  SFM

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TAGS: Agriculture, cloud seeding, drought, dry spell, El Niño phenomenon, Eliseo Mangliwan, Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, farming, Governor, Leonardo Ray Vasquez, Local authorities, Local Governments, Maribel Enriquez, News, North Cotabato, Pagasa, Pasonanca River, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Rainfall, Regions, water, water production and distribution, water rationing, water shortage, water sources, water supply, Weather, weather disturbance, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga City Water District
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