#NoWater: Cebu homes run dry

Paulo Andrada
#NoWater: Cebu homes run dry
A state of calamity has been declared in both the city and province


CEBU CITY, Philippines – On Friday, April 8, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama put the city under a state of calamity due to a water crisis caused by El Niño

Three days later, on April 11, Cebu province followed suit (READ: Cebu, Bohol under state of calamity due to El Niño).

Cebu province was also placed under a state of calamity last year due to a dry spell that hit several towns.

No water, low water pressure

Cebu City’s water supplier announced that 44 areas in Metro Cebu would
experience 15-hour water outages or low water pressure every day until water
supply returns to normal levels. (READ: Cebu City gov’t, private sector meet to address water shortage)

HEAT. Emerenciana Jimenez deals with extreme heat and a lack of water this summer. Image courtesy Paulo Andrada / Rappler

Emerenciana Jimenez, 59, is one of those residents who now have little access to water. She said:

Ang tubig, lisud kaayo makuha… Mo agas sa alas kuwatro sa buntag daun adto nas alas 8 (sa gabie) mo balik” (The water, it’s difficult to have. It starts to flow at 4am, then it resumes at 8pm.) 

Jimenez lives together with her son and 2 grandchildren in a tent along Pahina Central. She buys her water for P2 a pail, spending about P18 for water every day.

According to Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) spokesperson Charmaine Rodriguez-Kara, because of the dry surface water and dams, they are looking at filling a shortage of 25,000 cubic meters per day in water production to meet the daily average of 214,000 cubic meters needed to supply enough water for residents and businesses.

Lisud kay walay tubig, may gani naa’y tabay.” (It’s difficult because there is no water; it’s a good thing there’s a well) said Olivia Tan, a senior citizen who owns a well in Barangay Mambaling.

But even the water district says that surface water sources are quickly drying up.

Tan, who has been resident in the area since childhood, thought the water shortage is normal due to the summer season that happens every year. Tan added that they have been experiencing water shortage for about 2 weeks already, noting that supply only comes between 3am and 6am.

The well is shared with at least 50 other neighbors. The city and province said that this year’s water levels from the Jaclupan dam in Talisay and Buhisan dam in Cebu City are critically low.

No water, no business

The MCWD also provides water for business establishments across the metro.

Jennifer Beran, 55, owns an eatery in Lahug.

Maglisud… naay times mineral ang panghugas… wala man kay choice,” (It’s
difficult, there are times when we use mineral water for washing the dishes; you
don’t have a choice) said Baran.

MINERAL WATER. Jennifer Baran is forced to buy mineral water to wash dishes for her eatery. Image courtesy Paulo Andrade / Rappler

Mary Grace Lopez, 35, is an attendant of a water refilling station in Barangay Busay.

Naapektohan gyud… magtipun-og ang mga sudlanan,” (We have been affected,
unfilled containers are piled up) she said.

She added that they used to fill up 400 to 500 gallon containers a day, but their production went down to 200 gallon containers.

The dry spell will end when El Niño leaves in June, and La Niña arrives. But with La Niña, Cebu and the rest of the country will face a whole new set of problems. – Rappler.com

Paulo Andrada is a Rappler intern.

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