Worst Peñafrancia Fiesta scenario: Million visitors thirsting for water

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Traslacion Procession. Photo courtesy of bicolknown.com
Traslacion Procession. Photo courtesy of bicolknown.com

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 13Sept2013 (BicolToday.com) – While this city and Camarines Sur prepare for the upcoming Peñafrancia Fiesta starting Friday, September 13. until 21, civic-organization and government planners have overlooked the rising demand for water when the city water supply is hardly enough to meet the daily needs.

About a million visitors and pilgrims are expected to flock to Naga City this week for the Peñafrancia celebrations – marked by civic and military parades from various schools and religious pilgrimage by hundreds of thousands of Catholics.

Unknown to visitors, the city drinking water supply is drying up owing to its underground aquefiers already near exhaustion from over-pumping and lack of replenishment from the seasonal rainfalls that pour into nearby Mount Isarog, already denuded of its rain forests.

Over radio interview just recently, the Metropolitan Naga Water District (MNWD) confirmed that some section of the city is suffering from lack of water being pumped into the distribution system as its water pumping stations are sucking in air instead the required water volume.

MNWD has the capacity in providing 1048.5 liters per second, while households in Naga and its surrounding satellite towns was pegged at 465 liters per second, but latest admission by the water utility firm revealed that the underground water is drying up.

“It takes the water volume of two rain-driven strong typhoons (to hit the city) to replenish the underground spring water,” said Cesar Federizon of MNWD in a radio interview over radio DWKM-Fm last month. His statement had drawn sharp adverse reactions from listeners. However, Federizon’s statement has element of truth.

Metropolitan Naga’s potable water supply depends on underground spring water that is pumped daily from about 7 pumping stations located in strategic locations.

There is no report of scientific studies done, or such studies publicly released showing the extent of volume of spring water underground and the network of aquefiers beneath the sprawling metropolitan area.

The danger of salt water seepage into the aquefiers from the nearby Naga and Bicol Rivers cannot be ruled out, and under current situation of over-pumping, already a near probability.

The massive demand for water this festival week cast doubt on Naga’s capability to deliver drinking water for the transient population.

As alternative in case of poor water supply, residents and visitors must rely on bottled water being peddled in retail outlets, but there is no assurance if the bottled water has enough stocks to quench the thirst of fiesta visitors. [BicolToday.com]

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