‘Regulate water tanker businesses’

A PRIVATE water tanker makes a delivery to a hotel in Smallville in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. (File photo/FAA)

A HYDROLOGIST is prodding the Iloilo City government to regulate the operations of private or independent water distributors by checking on their sources.

Engr. Edgar Mana-ay said water tanker operators enjoy brisk business in Iloilo City because of supply and distribution problems besetting Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD).

Citing data he collected from MIWD and other sources, Mana-ay told The Daily Guardian on Air, a weekly radio program of TDG over Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, that MIWD needs at least 150 million cubic meters (cu. m.) daily to supply the needs of its more or less 38,000 concessionaries.

According to the latest MIWD figures, it can supply 62,000 to 65,000 cu. m. per dayfrom its main source in Maasin town, bulk water suppliers Primewater Ventures and Flo WaterResources Inc. (25,000 cu. m.), and its joint venture (JV) partner, MetroPacific Water Investment Corp. (37,000 cu. m.).

The water utility’s non-revenue water or supply lost to leaks and pilferage is pegged at 46 percent this year, down from 57 percent in 2017.

Mana-ay, the resident science and technology columnist of The Daily Guardian, said MIWD’s supply is not enough, forcing big businesses in the city to drill their own underground water sources.

But his main fear concern isthe private water distributors which might be drawing from the perch water table which is located 30 feet under the ground.

“The perch water table is supposed to be reserved for the ordinary, poor consumers, not the big businessmen. They should draw water from a depth of at least 60 feet to protect the ordinary people,” Mana-ay said.

Mana-ay said the Iloilo City government should follow the move of Pavia, Iloilo which passed an ordinance regulating the installation and operation of deep wells.

He said he helped craft the ordinance, which was passed in June 2015, being a consultant of the Pavia municipal government.

Regulation Ordinance No. 2015-07 is entitled “An ordinance regulating the extraction of surface waters from creeks and rivers, and underground waters of the municipality of Pavia, Iloilo for sustainable withdrawals and protecting the same from over extraction and pollution.”

According to Mana-ay, the ordinance has the following purposes:

-To regulate the exploitation and use of Pavia water resources, both surface and underground, such as it is done on a sustainable basis at the same time protecting it from pollution and over extraction.

-The shallow water table or perch water table is preserved and protected for individual use by the ordinary citizens of Pavia who can only afford an open or tasok shallow well up to 30 ft. with a hand operated pitcher pump or electric pump of less than 1-1/2 hp.

-The water resources of Pavia will first be served to the people of Pavia and the excess can now be delivered or sold outside of Pavia.

Section 10 of the ordinance regulates installation of deep wells and limits the total underground deep wells extraction to 20,000 cubic meters per day (cmd).

Section 11 limits the installation of Bulk Water Processing plants – two each for Tigum and Aganan rivers and none for Maliao Creek and that these processing plants should be at least two kilometers apart. There are also extraction restrictions when river surface waters go below 4 inches deep during prolonged dry season.

Mana-ay said that while MIWD tries to solve its problems, the city government must do its part to ensure that underground water resources will not be depleted by big businesses.

“Mayor Jose Espinosa III should look into this because the city might run out of underground water resources which could affect ordinary citizens. We are calling for regulation, not total prohibition of such businesses,” he added.

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