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Lao’s worry: El Niño effects on water

By NITZ ARANCON
Correspondent .

THE chairman of the city council’s committee on public utilities yesterday expressed concerns over the stability of the city’s tap water supply as the region starts feeling the effects of a weak El Niño phenomenon.

Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr., the committee’s chairman, expressed his worry in the wake of reports that water sources in Kidapawan City have started to dry up, and that some farms in neighboring Bukidnon, were already being damaged because of the heat and insufficient ranfall.

Water consumers in at least half of the city and Opol town in Misamis Oriental are dependent on the Bobonawan River in east central Bukidnon for their supply of tap water from the Cagayan de Oro District (COWD).

Lao said the city council’s public utilities committee would summon officials of the COWD and its bulk water supplier, Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (Cobi), so  they could discuss mitigating measures in the event that the effects of the El Niño worsen.

Lao said he also wanted to know if the COWD and Cobi have already started preparing for the worst scenario.

At the same time, Lao called on barangay officials and residents of the city to start conserving water.

But COWD chairman Eduardo Montalvan downplayed the effects of the El Niño phenomenon on the city’s water supply, adding that just in case the situation worsens, the water district would be prepared.

COWD general manager Bienvenido Batar Jr. said occurrences of El Niño in the past did not hurt the local water supply.

“We do not expect an adverse impact on our water supply,” Batar said.

Batar however said the El Niño could impact on the power supply and that “will disturb our operations.”

He said the COWD would be monitoring its wells’ water levels.

Montalvan said the COWD’s over 20 underground water sources never dried up even in the past when El Niño adversely affected Mindanao.

He said COWD’s forecast is that its water supply in the city and Opol town in Misamis Oriental would not become problematic even if the situation worsens.

“Supisinti man ang atong underground water. Wala man sukad mahurot bisan pag na-igo na kita sa mga El Niño niadtong pipila na  ka tuig ang milabay,” Montalvan said.

He said even Cobi was not worried that this year’s El  Niño would adversely affect its water treatment and supply operations in Baungon, Bukidnon.

Montalvan said past El Niño episodes in Mindanao never brought the water of the Bobonawan River down to critical levels.

The river is the source of at least 60 million liters of water that Cobi treats and then delivers to the COWD everyday.

“Wala may record nga namad-an ang Bobonawan River, so bisan pag na-a kanang weak El Niño, maka-supply pa gihapon ang Cobi sa  tubig nga  atong gikinahanglan,”  Montalvan said.

Even in the worst scenario, Montalvan said, COWD could buy mobile water purifiers similar to what was used during the 2011 “Sendong” devastation in the city.

He assured that COWD was prepared to buy these purifiers if really needed.

“Puwede man nang mobile water purifier itungab sa Cagayan River. Maka-supply gihapon tag tubig sa atong mga consumers, kon pananglit dili malikayan ang water crisis sa arong mga water sources,” he said.

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