Barangays ordered to do inventory of deep wells

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Benjamin Magalong directed punong barangays in the city to conduct an inventory of deep wells in their areas of jurisdiction for the city to come up with a database of such water supply facilities to provide or augment needed information on underground water utilization and management.

In a memorandum dated July 16, the mayor said this is in support of the ongoing inventory of deep wells being undertaken by the Water Resource Utilization Section (WRUS) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR-CAR) to address the depletion of the city’s underground aquifer.

“The list shall include the name of the operator or owner or beneficial user of the wells whether private or public in nature as well as a map indicating its location within the barangay,” the mayor said as he gave them until Sept. 30 to comply.

The mayor in a meeting with DENR-CAR Regional Executive Director Ralph Pablo expressed concern on the continued exhaustion of the city’s groundwater citing findings that these sources were not recharging despite the rains.

Pablo said the inventory initiated by the DENR-CAR and to be conducted in collaboration with the city government aims to gather data to establish the extent of these deep wells’ effect on the aquifer and determine what measures can be undertaken to address the problem.

Baguio Water District (BWD) General Manager Salvador Royeca had earlier affirmed that private wells in the city contribute to the dwindling of the water drilled from the aquifer especially during the summer when there was scarce supply and residents resort to “overpumping” of their wells.

He said the BWD had been hoping that the National Water Resource Board (NWRB) will stop issuing permits for the drilling of private wells and had opposed new applications to prevent the further depletion of the city’s natural water source.

Royeca said they will continue to air this concern to the national government and the NWRB in cooperation with the city government and other concerned agencies.

Magalong assured that this concern will be brought to the attention of these agencies for proper action.

During his term, former mayor Mauricio Domogan sought the devolvement of the NWRB function to regulate and issue permits to deep wells to the local governments to stem the proliferation of illegal deep wells that deplete the city’s water supply and damage its aquifers.

The former mayor bemoaned that the NWRB seemed to be oblivious to the city’s true situation and even ignored valid petitions and oppositions lodged by the BWD and individuals over some applications for water rights in the city./Aileen P. Refuerzo