MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 December) – Potable water supply in most areas serviced by the Malaybalay City Water District was cut off from late afternoon Monday to around mid-morning Tuesday after the dam at Kibalabag Creek was submerged due to flooding caused by tropical storm Seniang.
MCWD services 22 of the city’s 46 barangays. The 22 barangays are in the poblacion and along the national highway.
In an advisory Monday, Romeo Lapiceros, executive assistant to City Mayor Ignacio Zubiri said floodwaters rose two meters above the dam’s surface and that water supply could only be restored once the water level went down.
Zubiri urged the public to “store water while the problem is not yet restored.” Water supply however was restored around 9:00 a.m. Tuesday in Airport Village, the city’s biggest residential site.
At around 5a.m. Tuesday, water supply was restored in Barangay Kalasungay although at low pressure.
MCWD general manager Juanito Aroa Jr. told dxDB on Tuesday they could not distribute water as the flooding also submerged the intake box at Kibalabag Creek.
Aroa said the city government had sent heavy equipment to the area to do dredging.
He explained the city government owns and operates the water source at Kibalabag Creek, and MCWD only buys water from it for distribution to consumers.
Kibalabag Creek supplies 70 percent of the city’s potable water consumption.
As of 6:00 p.m. Monday, only the water treatment plant in Barangay Sumpong was operational “but has limited production capacity,” the MCWD said. Concessionaires, however, may get water from the MCWD facility in Sumpong.
It said there was “low pressure” to “no water” in the following areas: Poblacion barangays 1 to 11, barangays Casisang, San Jose, Aglayan, Linabo, Sumpong, Kalasungay, Laguitas, Managok and Dalwangan.
Tomas Taga, chief of the Malaybalay City Government Water Supply System confirmed Tuesday they had to limit the volume of water for treatment in the reservoir after the dam was submerged.
Taga said the transmission pipe from the reservoir to MCWD sustained a six-inch hole on Dec. 26, or even before the onslaught of Seniang. He added only two inches of the hole was left for repair so far.
He said the resumption of normal water supply would depend on the weather. As of 11:00 a.m. Tuesday it was still raining in Malaybalay.
The city government releases 180 liters per second to MCWD on normal days, Taga said.
But due to the problem and turbidity caused by heavy rains they can only release 140 lps, he added.
Aroa confirmed via telephone the release of water from the city government as of 6a.m. Tuesday.
“But it is not enough. We released water but it is insufficient or low pressure in most areas. With the rate there are still areas like in Barangay San Jose and the BLISS area where there is no water supply,” he added.
Floods caused by Seniang also forced the MCWD to close filtration system in Barangay Kalasungay due to turbid water from Bag-as and Lumayagan creeks.
It likewise shut down its supply from Dalwangan due to turbid water from Lalawan Creek.
In 2012, typhoon “Pablo” reduced the city’s water supply by about 50 percent due to damaged pipelines. Households got water supply from fire trucks that went around the barangays.
Aroa said he had proposed years ago to the city government to install a coagulation system at the treatment facility in Kibalabag Creek so that they can distribute water even if during floods that cause turbidity.
He said coagulation can eliminate turbidity and keep the water safe for human consumption.
Malaybalay residents voiced their disappointment on the “lack of information” about the shortage of water supply on Facebook. (Walter I. Balane and H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)