The city water district has started its cloud seeding operations to produce rain that can augment the local water supply amidst the extended quarantine.
Jenn Rausa, spokesperson of the Puerto Princesa City Water District (PPCWD), said over the weekend that the team from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) arrived on April 1 to wait for the personnel of the contracted airline Fliteline Airway Philippines, Inc. who arrived on April 8.
Both PAF and Fliteline personnel underwent a 14-day quarantine period in keeping with health protocols in dealing with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Before pa na pagdating dito ng PAF ay nag-secure na kami ng approval kay mayor (Lucilo Bayron) na payagan dumating dito yong mga kasamahan natin para wala tayong naba-bypass, basta nag-undergo lang sa protocol,” she said Saturday, April 11.
Rausa said that the city mayor approved the arrival of the cloud seeding operation team as long as they follow the social distancing measures by not roaming around the city and staying in the military camp during the quarantine period.
Rausa said the PAF team had medical certificates with them, proving they also underwent 18-day quarantine at Villamor Air Base.
Rausa said that the team of PAF and the airline are both under the monitoring of City Health Office (CHO) and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) to ensure that they have no outside contact with any possible virus carrier.
The procured salt being used for the seeding operation to produce rain arrived on April 11 at the city port area. However, the salt used supply used on the first day of operation was the remaining from the 2019 cloud seeding operation.
“Itong mga operation, siguro nakaka-tatlong sorties na tayo mula kahapon hanggang kanina (Friday to Saturday), tatlo or apat na sorties. Dalawa doon ay nakapag-produce ng light rains,” she said.
“Hindi lang direct hit sa Campo Uno pero upstream tapos kasama na rin sa target area natin ngayon, maliban sa Campo Uno o Irawan watershed yong Lapu-Lapu (river) dahil may source na rin tayo na ginagamit doon,” she said.
Rausa said the 14-sack capacity aircraft used this year was the same that was employed in 2019.
She said that in this year’s cloud seeding operation, the team decided to put salt in seedable clouds over Lapu-Lapu River which is a water source for the Water Supply Improvement Project-Phase II (WSIP-II) and at Campo Uno where the current main source is located.
“Ngayon meron kaming temporary source na ginawa sa Lapu-Lapu, actually na-tap na natin yon at nag-start na mag-operate. Siyempre tag-init ngayon, kahit hindi natutuyo ang ilog na yan, we still have to sustain yong supply ng tubig sa area, lalo na at binabawasan natin, kinukuhaan na kasi natin ng supply,” she said.
“Maganda rin kasi yong watershed dito, malawak yong catchment kumbaga kahit saan mag-hit o bumagsak yong ulan gawa ng cloud seeding, tatama pa rin sa talaga sa source natin,” Rausa added.
She said that only team members of PAF and Fliteline have direct contacts yet to each other as of the moment. The Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) and PPCWD are remotely participating through a group chat.
She said that the cloud seeding operations will be continuous even if the extended quarantine will be lifted on April 30.
“Tuloy-tuloy pa rin kasi ini-expect namin na aabutan kami ng May kasi supposedly kasi sa original contract natin ang start ay March 16 tapos end namin ay May 22 dapat kaso late na tayo nag-start, aabutin pa rin talaga ng May, tapos na yong ECQ noon,” Rausa said.
“After naman ng quarantine nila, doon na siguro kahit papaano ay makalapit kami para ma-observe talaga yong operation,” she added.