Protection of watershed reserves pushed
Bacolod City (15 June) -- Bacolod Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue has urged Bacoleņos to protect the watershed areas found in Negros Occidental as the city's underground water supply is reaching a dangerous level.
The Japanese International Cooperating Agency (JICA) has found that Bacolod is one of the seven cities in the country that has critical ground water supply.
JICA added that by 2025, the ground water supply of Bacolod will deteriorate due to over-extraction and deep well drilling, along with the biggest threat, which is salt water intrusion.
Bacolod City Water District confirmed this by announcing during its consultative meeting for proposed water rates increase that its underground water source had already depleted.
Batapa-Sigue, chairperson of the Sangguniang Panlungsod's Committee on Communications and Energy, said she has proposed an ordinance establishing the watershed preservation and water conservation programs of Bacolod.
Watershed refers to a catchment area or drainage basin from which the waters of a stream system are drawn.
Under the ordinance, the city government should pursue a Comprehensive Watershed Development Plan and Water Conservation Program along with other stakeholders.
Batapa added the city government should actively encourage civil society, and other sectors like labor, the academe and business, in undertaking environment-related activities in their efforts to organize, educate and motivate the people in addressing water-related and environmental issues and problems.
The 1,000-hectare upper Caliban-Imbang watershed serves as main source of water to Bacolod and neighboring communities. It is located approximately 28 kilometers east of Bacolod. Barangays Alangilan, Granada and Vista Alegre serve as the entrance of the watershed going to Bacolod. The groundwater wells of BACIWA are located in Barangays Estefania, Vista Alegre, Mansilingan, Granada, Felisa, and Bata with two others located in Mabini Street and the Paglaum Sports Complex. Brgy. Alangilan, on the other hand, has spring water.
As of now, more tree covers are needed in and below the watershed. Tree planting is one measure suggested to preserve the watershed. According to experts, a large tree could store or hold between 300 to 500 gallons of water. These kinds of trees are usually native tree species or endemic to the island of Negros. The 500-hectare old-growth forest or protection zone is 80 percent covered with natural forest but it is not enough preserve the watershed.
The ordinance further provides that all watersheds that are sources of water for existing and potential irrigable areas and recharge areas of major aquifers identified by the Department of Agriculture and DENR should be preserved.
Under the ordinance, a Committee on Watershed Preservation and Water Conservation or to be known as "WaterCom" shall be created to ensure the proper implementation of this Ordinance and to coordinate with agencies necessary in implementing this Ordinance.
A public hearing on the said ordinance was conducted by the Office of Batapa recently. (Batapa News/PIA/EAD) [top]