(File photo)

Puerto Princesa City Water District (PPCWD) general manager Antonio Jesus Romasanta said Thursday the public should brace for unprecedented water shortage this year as supply from its Campo Uno main reservoir continues to decline to a serious level.

Romasanta made the warning after the PPCWD’s contingency committee raised the water crisis alert level to No. 2 following a meeting on March 5.

He said a “state of calamity” might be declared in the city if the water level in Campo Uno consistently drops.

The PPCWD first raised the alert level to No. 1 on February 14 after its technical team detected “low pressure to no water” due to the depletion of supply at the Campo Uno source brought by the dry season and the impending El Niño phenomenon.

“Wala pa sa ngayon ‘yan, pero very, very possible na mangyari ulit since 2015 kasi tuloy-tuloy ang pagbaba ng production natin ng tubig galing sa Campo Uno sa Irawan. Wala talagang ulan kasi at sobrang init. Baka mag-declare tayo ng state of calamity this year, mag-water rationing sa mga identified areas na walang pumapasok na tubig. Identified naman na namin ang mga areas, ‘yong mga dati pa rin,” he said.

Among the contingency measures they are considering, he said, is to link with Mactan Rock Industries, Inc. (MRII), a complete water and wastewater company based in Mandaue City in Cebu, to rent portable desalination devices to treat brackish water that may be sourced from the Jacana area.

He said the PPCWD also has a desalination device in Barangay Bancao-Bancao that can augment what would be rented from MRII.

“Ang mangyayari lang ay mahal ang sa Mactan Rock kasi rerentahan, pero tinitignan pa natin ‘yan. Meron na akong nautusan na tingnan ang possibility na mag-communicate sa kanila sa Cebu,” Romasanta added.

He added they are also likely to communicate with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to know how it can help in “cloud seeding” and what is the procedure that the PPCWD must follow to avail its assistance.

Cloud seeding the atmosphere, Romansanta explained, might help bring rain to Campo Uno.

Another solution is to open the bidding and award the Montible and Lapu-Lapu water project contract to the winner to “only get additional supply” for the time being.

“Ang isa pang tinitingnan namin is buksan na ‘yong bidding sa Montible at i-award na sa winner para lang muna makakuha ng supply ng tubig,” he pointed out.

In its latest advisory, the PPCWD said second alert level means that Campo Uno “can only supply 30 percent of its average daily production capacity” despite putting in operation all its 40 water wells and small ground sources.

PPCWD acting information officer Jenn Rausa said Wednesday in a separate interview that it also means they are now implementing more intensive measures to address the situation such as the mandatory audit of consumption of top water consumers, rigorous information dissemination about the current supply situation and on the proper conservation and use of water.

Water injecting and regulating of valves are still being implemented to help augment water supply.

She said it is expected that in the coming weeks without any rainfall occurrence, water supply will persistently decrease that could result in the declaration of Water Crisis Alert Level No. 3 or the implementation of water rationing.

“As of our meeting yesterday, nag-deklara na kami ng Alert Level 2. Noong mga nakaraang linggo nasa Alert Level 1 pa tayo kaso na-maintain natin ‘yong around 300 cubic meters per hour na flow rate sa Campo Uno pero ngayong pagpasok ng March ay 217 cubic meters per hour na lang ‘yong ating flow rate from Campo Uno,” Rausa said.

She said water rationing is possible towards the end of March or during the first week of April.

However, she said this will be dependent on the number of complaints they will receive from consumers, particularly those living in identified areas or barangays that always experience lack of water supply.

“Asahan na natin na ‘yong mga barangay natin sa mataas na bahagi ng city, ‘yong Bancao-Bancao, Milagrosa, Maliwanag, Bagong Sikat, Bagong Silang… itong mga magkakatabing barangay na ito ay kasama talaga sila sa apektado ngayon. ‘Yong mahina pa lang ang pressure ay madalas na silang mawalan ng tubig,” she pointed out.

She said the public should continuously observe basic water saving tips to help in conserving supply.

“We also encourage every resident to always store water for their own consumption. Report to us any detected leaks or illegal connections,” she reiterated. (with a report from Rachel Ganancial)

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.