THE local disaster office and water district are warning of a looming water crisis this dry summer season in Baguio
“If I am not mistaken, these next two months will see a water crisis,” Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (LDRRMO) Louie Glenn Lardizabal said on Wednesday, March 29.
According to the City DRRMO and the Baguio Water District (BWD), the City of Pines is facing yet another looming water supply problem as the water network is struggling to keep up with the growing demand for water as the population of the city continues to grow compounded by the return of tourists this year.
In total, the BWD only has 77 pumping stations, 63 deep wells, four open sources, and two rainwater harvesting facilities to serve its estimated nearly half a million population as of 2023, which does not yet account for the daytime population of individuals from outside the city coming in for work, nor the tourist population now that tourism is starting to return to pre-pandemic numbers.
According to BWD General Manager Salvador Royeca, one major concern that has harmed the water supply of Baguio was the proliferation of private, unregulated deep wells that excessively drain the city’s waterbed beyond what rainfall can replenish.
Only 210 water companies are permitted to tap into the city’s water table, but according to Royeca, there are many unregulated private wells operating in the city. While there is no comprehensive list of said unregulated wells, both Royeca and Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong have said that numerous complaints have arrived at their desks regarding these wells.
“It is sad that there are people who think only of their business and what they can earn without any regard for the environment. Please be warned that overpumping and other activities that harm the environment are against the law,” Magalong said.
According to Royeca, with the growing demand for water, the BWD is looking for more sources of water that can be tapped and potentially the boring of more wells. But the city must first meet with the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to request for intensified regulation and monitoring to ensure that the water table is not over-exploited and drained dry.
Royeca also said that the city is looking to realign water supply to ensure proper distribution to all residences connected to the network.
Previously, the BWD broached the possibility of putting up more rain catchment facilities in the city to increase the usable water supply in Baguio, but it is still undergoing a feasibility study.
Lardizabal meanwhile said that as the water supply in the city is going to be stretched thin for at least the next two months, with some residents already reporting shortages, it is important to observe water conservation practices in private residences to make it through the dry season.