CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/07 January) – This city’s groundwater supply is getting depleted, according to a 2009 study done by the Institute of Philippine of Ateneo de Manila University, a finding that has made Mayor Vicente Emano and other city officials grope for conservation measures.
Aside from indicating that the groundwater table has gone down, the study also found out that seawater had intruded into the city’s aquifers.
These findings were affirmed by another study made by the National Water Resources Board in collaboration with ADMU’s Economics Department.
Deep wells that are drilled to produce potable water for the city with over half a million population have been getting deeper, indicating the lowering of the water table.
In fact, the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) no longer relies solely on their deep wells and has already started outsourcing about 40 percent of the water supply of the city. The COWD has contracted Rio Verde Corporation for bulk water supply.
Rio Verde sources its water from Baungon, Bukidnon.
Emano said that this development needs stricter regulation on the construction of deep wells. “Sabton nga dili na basta itugot ang mga deep wells, apil na sa mga subdivisions (We should understand that deep well construction should be regulated even in subdivisions).”
He said the city should not wait for the time when the groundwater resources reach a critical level and residents would have to face serious repercussions.
Last month, the City Council committee on environment and natural resources chaired by Councilor President Elipe held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance instituting a groundwater conservation strategy for Cagayan de Oro.
The measure aims to control excessive extraction of the city’s groundwater resources.
Environmentalists however said that the focus should not just be on the end-side of water production.
“While we do agree on the need for water conservation, our political leaders should realize that the depletion of our groundwater is not just demand-driven,” said Sustines C. Magallanes of the Center for Alternative Rural Technology Inc. (CART).
He said that decades of forest denudation in the watershed of Cagayan de Oro is the cause of the low resupply from the watersheds of the city’s aquifers.
“Water conservation starts with stopping forest denudation and a serious reforestation program,” he added.
In the 1980s, the city’s watershed had about 30,000 hectares of forest. Only a little over 3,000 hectares have remained at present. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)