THE METRO Iloilo Bulk Water Supply Corp. (MIB) appealed for a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach in managing the Maasin watershed which is now heavily silted.
MIB is a joint venture company of Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) and private firm MetroPacific Water Investment Corporation (MWIC).
Engr. Rolixto Jodieres Jr., MIB general manager, reported that heavy siltation has reduced the volume of raw water extracted from the dam which affected the production of the Sta. Barbara water treatment plant.
Jodieres said of the 35,000 cubic meters (cu. m.) to 40,000 cu. m. produced by the dam daily, about 1,000 cu. m. is lost due to heavy siltation.
“Continuous accumulation of silt led to obstructions in the raw water intake,” he said.
Jodieres added that Maasin dam has never undergone massive desilting in the past.
Siltation is a result of harsh weather conditions and human activities such as illegal logging, kaingin, and farming in the upstream.
To minimize silt flushing, MIB implemented a desilting project on the dam in May 2017 which cost P3.699 million.
The cleaning was done six times every 30 minutes.
Jodieres raised concern over the issue which according to him is already alarming.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I can say the problem is now at 7 percent,” he said.
He said that desilting is only a temporary solution as the sediments replenish after three months.
“It’s like a recurring problem. So it is high time that we act on it. If we do not take care of the environment, our supply will be affected. That is why we appeal to stakeholders to provide assistance may it be in a form of technical or financial,” Jodieres added.
INTEGRATED WATERSHED PROGRAM
MIWD general manager Imelda Magsuci said there are three present issues that the watershed is facing – siltation, water quality, and sustainability.
While a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) already exists, Magsuci said they propose an integrated watershed program which is seen as a long-term approach to the problem.
She said it should be led by a concerned agency like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Irrigation Administration or the Department of Agriculture.
It should also cover other stakeholders such as the local government unit, MIWD, MIB, the academe, and the community.
“It is a community-based program that aims to involve the residents within the area. The community should be aware that their activities such as the conversion of forest to farming affect the watershed,” she said.
The 6,150-hectare Maasin watershed supplies 55 percent of potable water to MIWD.
MIWD services around 38,000 consumers in Iloilo City and seven towns in Iloilo Province.