City in state of emergency because of water scarcity
(The Freeman) - April 8, 2016 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama has declared a state of emergency after learning that scarcity of water brought about by the dry spell has already affected 98 percent of all residents, especially those living in upland villages, of the 80 barangays of the city.

Emerging from a closed-door meeting he had called late in the afternoon yesterday, Rama immediately announced the need to make everyone aware of the water crisis affecting the city.

He said that based on the data presented to him by water stakeholders and the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the dry spell brought about by the El Nino phenomenon has already taken toll on the city's water supply.

"Based on the data presented, I am convinced that the City is in a state of emergency," Rama told reporters during a press briefing after the three-hour meeting attended also by officials of the Metro Cebu Water District.

During daytime, most barangays in Cebu City have little or no water supply. In Lapu-Lapu City, three barangays are also identified affected while in Talisay six barangays is also experiencing the water crisis.

Some barangays in Cebu City get their supply from fire trucks sent to villages. Families are seen lining up containers while waiting for the trucks sent by the City Hall.

Rama said the declaration is just a contingency plan for the current situation and a long term solution will also be underway.

MCWD has already advised consumers to store water from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. where there is enough water supply in their homes.   At the Capitol, the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office is sending "rapid assessment teams" to the towns and cities following an emergency meeting last Thursday.

But Governor Hilario Davide III earlier said he wants to place the province under state of calamity to prepare to immediately disburse calamity funds.

 The declaration, though, would depend on the recommendation of the PDRRMO, which yesterday wrote the Commission on Elections asking if it is lawful to distribute calamity assistance during the campaign season.

But for stakeholder organizations advocating for sustainable water supply in Cebu, the long-term solution to water scarcity is building more dams to catch surface water and exploring alternative sources like desalination.

Father Mar Alingasa, president of Cebu Water Crisis Response Group, suggested putting up dams near the forest reserves of Mananga in Talisay City and Kotkot-Lusaran in Liloan and Compostela towns in the north.

Because most rivers in Cebu's eastern side, where Metro Cebu is located, are "rain-fed," Alingasa believes these water sources can greatly augment supply during a season of drought.

He recalled that there was once a bidding initiated in 2000 for the establishment of Mananga dam, but it did not materialize allegedly due to opposition by political leaders.

Even Mega Cebu's vision for 2050 recognizes the crucial role of an additional dam here, said Architect Socorro Atega of CWCRG, who said a Japan International Cooperation Agency study that recommended it as a priority project.

The Mega Cebu plan, she said, had been presented to Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, who in turn reportedly found the roughly P5 billion needed budget to be "maliit lang" or minimal.

"Who will shoulder that (P5 billion)? Because in Luzon, ang infrastructure is provided by the national government, but here we have to source out whether from national or from the private sector. Of course, the private investor has to recoup the investment, so preferable if we can source from the national government so di na kaayo ma-burden ang consumers," Atega said. — (FREEMAN)

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