Surigao City grapples with water shortage

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 June) – The water utility here has admitted it has been unable to provide enough water to its consumers since last month due to the drought brought about by extreme weather condition.

Benjamin Ensomo Jr., general manager of the Surigao Metropolitan Water District (SMWD), said that the dry season in Surigao City, located at the eastern side of the country, started only in May, unlike other parts of the country. It will last until around September, he added.

He told MindaNews that the Parang-parang watershed in Barangay Mat-i, the city’s main source of potable water, and other sources are currently producing only 21,000 cubic meters per day compared to the usual 30,000 cu.m.

Ensomo said that for the past few years, it has always been the case that the city would experience inadequate water supply when the dry season comes.

He said it was worse last month when the SMWD recorded a dramatic drop of water supply, down to 16,000 cu.m.

Surigao City needs at least 24,000 cubic meters a day to meet the more than 21,000 households, according to SMWD.

“Today, we have a deficit of 6,000 cubic meters,” Ensomo said.

“Surigao City is growing steadily and the water demand from industry to households is increasing rapidly. We are trying our best to address this situation,” Bensomo said.

To address this, he said the city needs to tap additional sources of potable water.

Among the immediate solutions the water utility has been undertaking is tapping sources from the neighboring towns of Sison and San Francisco.

One of the sources that the water utility is working on is in Kantalibong in the town of Sison with a water yield of 3,000 cu.m. a day.

Recently, the water utility has tapped at the Ima Creek and Cabanes Creek in Sison town and the Tamoyo creek in Magtangale in San Francisco town in Surigao del Norte.

Ensomo said water supply was still enough during “normal” days but they are looking for more sources to augment the demand during dry season.

He stressed that since the city has been relying on surface water it will always experience shortage of water supply if it doesn’t rain for a few days.

Albert Labrador, who works with the Surigao del Norte Non-Government Organization Coalition for Development Inc., said SMWD and the people of Surigao should come up with the best possible solutions.

Most people living in the high-level areas in Surigao such as parts of Barangay Luna, Canlanipa, Washington and Taft are the most affected areas by the water shortage.

“You have to wait until close to midnight to start to save water. It’s same old experience in the past few years, it’s a hassle,” said Erick Navarro of Payawan 2, Barangay Luna.

SMWD had been implementing a scheduled water rationing in the past few days in the city.