Butuan City

Butuan under state of calamity due to water shortage

Ivy Marie Mangadlao

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Butuan under state of calamity due to water shortage

FETCH. Personnel from the Department of Health Caraga Warehouse in Barangay Doongan fetch water from a freely accessible deep well along Pizarro Street in Barangay Jose P. Rizal, Butuan City, on Wednesday, May 22.

Ivy Marie Mangadlao/Rappler

Officials say more than 15% of Butuan's population, and over 30% of the agricultural, business, and industrial sectors, are affected by the water supply shortage

BUTUAN, Philippines – The Butuan city government declared a state of calamity on Tuesday, May 21, in response to a water shortage affecting the entire city.

The city council approved Resolution No. 238-2024 during a regular session, allowing the city and impacted barangays to utilize their respective 30% Quick Response Fund. The funds will be used to implement projects, programs, and activities aimed at mitigating the ongoing water crisis.

The declaration followed a recommendation from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Butuan Mayor Ronnie Vicente Lagnada after an executive committee meeting earlier in the day.

Outdoors, Water, Dam
DRYING UP. An aerial view of the dried-up section of the Taguibo Watershed Dam in Sitio Iyao, Barangay Anticala, Butuan City. courtesy of Butuan City PIO

“More than fifteen percent (15%) of Butuan City’s population and over thirty percent (30%) of the agricultural, business, and industrial sectors are affected by the water supply shortage, urgently requiring emergency assistance,” the resolution stated.

According to the Butuan City Water District (BCWD) advisory on May 21, the total bulk water supply from its main supplier, Taguibo Aquatech Solutions Corporation (TASC), has dropped critically to 30 million liters per day (MLD), well below the normal operating level of 56.6 MLD.

TASC sources water from the Taguibo River at Sitio Iyao in Barangay Anticala within the Taguibo River Watershed Forest Reserve, which has now dried up due to below-normal rainfall for the past three months. The situation was blamed on the El Niño phenomenon, as reported by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

BCWD reported that with water availability at only 30 MLD, 15 barangays would have no water for 24 hours, while 29 other barangays would receive water on a rotational basis.

“As the water service provider of Butuan City, we are currently facing a significant challenge due to the prolonged drought affecting our water supply. This situation has resulted in a low service level, making it essential for us to undertake measures to address the issue and ensure the continuity of our services,” BCWD stated.

BCWD said they have deployed six tankers to supply water to the affected barangays.

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The Butuan City Public Information Office (PIO) announced on its Facebook page that the local government was conducting an inventory of water sources for rationing and water tanks in the barangays.

“A water crisis management team will be established to focus on the water supply problem,” the PIO added.

BCWD has faced criticisms due to the water shortage, with complaints about the inconsistent rationing schedules and rotational supply even before the crisis.

Cynth Zephanee Nietes, a resident of Barangay Libertad, told Rappler that the water supply in her community was already problematic even before the shortage, and the situation worsened now with the El Niño phenomenon.

“We don’t have a deep well or a tank. We wait until midnight or early morning to store water. Sometimes, we go to neighboring towns to fetch water or buy mineral water,” Nietes said.

“It’s very inconvenient, from washing clothes to dishes and even personal hygiene. It’s stressful to wait for water to flow. You can’t sleep properly because you’re always waiting for water,” Nietes added.

On May 18, BCWD appealed to its concessionaires and the general public to refrain from harassing their field personnel.

“To sustain our operations and continue delivering essential services, we must collect payments from our concessionaires… We urge you to support us by cooperating with our personnel during their fieldwork and by ensuring timely payment of your water bills. Your contributions are vital in overcoming the drought’s challenges and continuing to serve you to the best of our abilities,” BCWD stated. –Rappler.com

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