Jan-Feb rainfall less than 10% for same period last year: Dry spell to peak in May; water sources drying up
posted 25-Mar-2019  ·  
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With the national weather agency predicting the current lack of rainfall would reach its height in May 2019, water sources especially in the capital town of Virac have started to dry up.

The management of the Virac Water District told the Tribune last week that the Padurog source is no longer producing water while the level at the Sibanhan source has gone down by more than half, leaving the Cauayan river as the only reliable supplier of potable water to its more than 7,000 concessionaires.

Several barangays in the poblacion have low water pressure or no supply of potable water from VIWAD during the day, many residents report.

VIWAD General Manager Gabriel Tejerero disclosed that technical personnel are experimenting with reducing the flow of water to certain areas at specific times of the day by partially shutting off gate valves in the distribution pipeline.

He likewise stated that the district is set to bid out a P3.8-million contract for the installation of the Bigaa Transmission and Distribution Pipeline this March 26, 2019.

However, it would have to award the contract before the March 29, 2019 start of the campaign period for the May 13, 2019 national and local elections due to the ban on infrastructure projects. Otherwise, it would have to apply for exemption with the Commission on Elections, the completion of the project being vital to ensuring that its covered areas would be assured of adequate water during summer.

At the Virac Synoptic Station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (PAGASA), records show that compared to the total rainfall for the first two months of 2019 is less than 10 percent of the total rainfall for the same period last year.

In January and February of 2018, the weather bureau in Virac recorded total precipitation of 713 mm and 290.5 mm, respectively, far greater than the 71.5 mm and 25.1 mm of rain that dropped on the capital town these first two months of the year.

For the first 15 days of March, the same records show, total rainfall on the only three days with rain (Mar. 4, 5 and 7) came up to only 2.2 mm. This is a shade over one percent of the March 2018 precipitation volume of 204.7 mm.

It may be recalled that during the recent meeting of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) called by Mayor Samuel Laynes, the officer-in-charge of PAGASA Virac, Juan Pantino Jr., reported that 70 to 80 percent of the current El Niño phenomenon will be felt in the province, with its peak to occur this May before gradually receding little by little beginning July.

“The onset of summer coupled with the peak of El Niño would result in hotter weather,” he said, clarifying that there would still be rain but in lesser frequency and volume.

Instead of the usual 20 to 21 typhoons passing through the country every year, Pantino said, there will be only 14 to 18 such weather disturbances in 2019. He warned, however, that typhoons in the last quarter of the year would be stronger than usual due to the higher ocean temperatures brought about by El Niño.

Catanduanes is included among the 41 provinces now experiencing a dry spell with way-below-normal rainfall, according to PAGASA.

In its latest advisory on El Niño, the agency said the Virac station’s old record of high temperature for the month of February, made in 1988 at 30.5 degree Centigrade, was broken on Feb. 21, 2019 when the temperature rose to a high of 31.5 degrees.

During the same meeting, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Catanduanes Engineering District expressed dismay that VIWAD engineers failed to anticipate the effect of the parallel transmission line that the DPWH built from the Cauayan source to the VWIAD water treatment facilities.

With the old 8-inch transmission line and the new 12-inch pipe more than doubling the water flowing into the sedimentation tank and the reservoir, a huge quantity of the precious resource is spilling out of the reservoir as the water could not be accommodated by the existing 6-inch pipe leading to the main distribution line.

District Engineer Gil Balmadrid wondered how the water firm’s production division forgot to consider the increased flow of water into the reservoir and the distribution system during the two years that the DPWH undertook the parallel pipeline project.

He suggested that instead of entirely allocating the pipes to supply the Bigaa area, part of it should be realigned to supply the distribution line at Danicop leading to the Virac poblacion area to help ease the shortage of potable water. VIWAD GM Tejerero agreed to consider the recommendation.

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