Current status of the PPCWD impounding dam in Barangay Montible. Photo taken on Tuesday, May 7. (Photo credit from PPCWD)

The prolonged absence of rain has led to an alarmingly low water supply in Puerto Princesa City.

“Sa ngayon, yung ating mga surface source ay talagang hirap na dahil last rainfall na-record natin ay noon pang first week ng February so, three months na tayo walang ulan,” Puerto Princesa City Water District General Manager Walter Laurel told Palawan News Tuesday.

“Ang ating Irawan, yung Campo Uno source ay nakakakuha na lang tayo ng around 1,400 cubic meters per day from as high as 17,000 cu meters so, less than 10 percent na lang yung nakukuha natin doon,” he added.

Additionally, he said that the Montible source, which normally generates around 35,000 cubic meters per day, is now down to approximately 27,000-30,000 cubic meters per day.

Normal water level of the Montible impounding dam. (Photo credit from PPCWD)

“Medyo alarming na yung situation dahil nga yung Montible prior to project construction, the lowest recorded flow rate is 40,000 cu. m. Sa ngayon hindi na umaabot,” he said.

To augment the dwindling supply, Laurel said they have dredged the upstream part of the Montible source to divert water and increase the flow.

He added that they will also reactivate the deep well pumps around the city.

“Meron tayong 11 deep well pumps na ire-revive to supplement yung ating existing supply,” he said.

“Sa ngayon, meron tayong nine deep wells na hindi pa na-commission so yun ang pinapa-fast track natin sa mga tao na mag-overtime para ma-operate natin kasi nga matagal nang hindi nagagamit,” he added.

Laurel also stated that the latest production report from the water district showed a daily output of 52,000 cubic meters from the main sources—Campo Uno, Montible, and Lapu-Lapu, including the deep wells. However, due to the extreme heat being experienced in the city, demand has risen slightly from 52,000 to 55,000 cubic meters per day.

He also mentioned that water pressure in some areas has decreased from 25 psi (pounds per square inch) to as low as 10 psi, which is why supplies have also diminished.

He expressed hope for rain in the coming weeks based on forecasts from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) so that surface water sources can be replenished.

Laurel further noted that based on projections, the current daily production of 52,000 cubic meters will only last for another week and will continue to decrease to less than 50,000 cubic meters.

“That’s why we are rushing the re-commissioning of the deep wells which can produce around 3,500 cu. m. per day to augment our daily supply,” he said noting that the decreasing water supply is also caused by El Niño which is worse compared to the one back in 2015.

Meanwhile, Laurel also stated that as part of their contingency measures, they are planning to divert the flow of water from another river in Montible to the main river and channel it to their terruvian intake.

Other contingency measures are also being considered.

“This is also partly for the protection of our facilities. Yung diyan sa Montible Bridge 1, last reading namin two weeks ago, meron syang 8,000 cu. m. flow rate per day so plano namin i-divert pabalik sa main river. Meron kaming pag-uusap with BuCor na i-allow kami i-divert yung ilog para i-feed pabalik doon sa Montible terruvian intake so pumayag naman sila,” he said.

Laurel also said he has talked with officials from the Tactical Operations Wing West (TOW West) for the possibility of conducting cloud seedign if needed.

“Kasama yan sa kino-consider kasi meron pa tayong around 100 bags pa ng asin na naiwan sa previous cloud seeding operation,” he elaborated.

“Pero ang cloud seeding, kapag walang seedable cloud, wala rin. But just in case na hindi pa rin mag-ulan ngayong week na ito,” he noted.