The Puerto Princesa City Water District (PPCWD) has earned the distinction of being the sole water district in the nation to achieve a state of “no water stress.”

The water utility services office said this recognition was accorded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a result of the city’s strategic approach to water conservation and efficient utilization, marked by a contrast between water demand and supply.

During a press conference held on August 18, the water district presented a comprehensive overview of their achievements in bolstering the city’s water infrastructure. This included insights into the status of water sources, a meticulous plan to extend water lines to all 66 barangays, and ambitious initiatives to further enhance capacity.

General manager Walter Laurel shared that the PPCWD has emerged as one of the country’s fastest-growing water districts.

He said that the present daily water usage, around 1,600 cubic meters, exceeds that of neighboring urban areas because Puerto Princesa’s population is growing faster than the national average.

“We consume an average of about 1,600 cubic meters per day. Medyo mataas kumpara sa ibang siyudad na ka-level natin, dahil yung average growth rate ng ating population ay mas mataas kesa sa national average,” said Laurel.

Distinguished by its unique water sourcing approach, Puerto Princesa draws 70 percent of its water supply from surface water, mainly rivers, while the remaining 30 percent is derived from underground sources.

This innovative strategy allows the city to efficiently utilize its resources, with a goal of eventually relying fully on surface water during the rainy season to preserve underground reserves for future generations.

“Maganda sana kung 100 percent, kapag rainy season gamitin natin yung surface water para backup na lang ang underground water dahil alam natin na mahirap magreplenish. Once you pull out [the water], you cannot reverse that, it will take hundreds of years. I-reserve na natin for future generations,” added Laurel.

He underscored the district’s sturdy production capacity of 3.1 million cubic meters per month, surpassing the actual demand by more than twice.

This excess capacity not only ensures a stable water supply for residents but also provides the flexibility to accommodate unexpected surges in water consumption, such as during tourist influxes.

The PPCWD’s success story is partially attributed to the successful rehabilitation of key water sources like Campo Uno and San Rafael, which were severely damaged by typhoons Odette and Egay, respectively. These rehabilitation efforts have not only ensured water availability but have also contributed to resolving water pressure issues in various barangays.

Despite its achievements, the city water district remains proactive in encouraging responsible water consumption, particularly in light of the impending El Niño season expected in the first quarter of 2024. As climate change continues to impact weather patterns, Laurel said the district is also taking steps to “climate-proof” its water systems by considering more resilient materials for its infrastructure.

“We want to increase the climate resilience of our water systems, so instead of PVC gawin na natin na bakal ang mga tumatawid [na pipe] sa ilog, kasi iba na talaga yung panahon ngayon,” added Laurel.

Laurel added that as the PPCWD continues its expansion to serve an increasing number of barangays, their holistic approach to water management serves as an inspiring model for other areas facing water stress.

Currently serving 50 out of 66 barangays, the PPCWD aims to expand its coverage to 53 barangays this year, having already built reservoirs in Brgy. Bacungan and Brgy. Mangingisda, with ongoing pipeline establishment in Brgy. Maruyugon.

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