By Jose B. Perez, Editor
NAGA CITY --- Water conservation and protection remain to be the top concern of the Metropolitan Naga Water District (MNWD), according to its Chairman, Jorge T. Palma.
Palma was speaking during the Kapihan sa Metro Naga held at Bob Marlin Restaurant Tuesday morning (April 25) before members of the local media.
While admitting that potable water source has inevitably been depleting, especially with the onset of the hot summer months, Palma said the water district has been closely watching to ensure that there are enough, if not abundant, water supply flowing in the distribution system and faucets of member-consumers.
The MNWD provides water supply to some 50,000 service connections (commercial, industrial, and residential) in the City of Naga and four other adjoining towns, namely: Camaligan, Canaman, Magarao, and Gainza.
He said there are two spring water sources, situated at the foot of Mt. Isarog, and 26 electrically powered pumping stations around the coverage area. Water conservation is vital in ensuring supply, he said.
Palma assured that MNWD’s potable water supply are safe because of their constant monitoring and laboratory testing of water samples from the source down to the pipelines.
“The proliferation of bottled water stations around the city and towns does not mean that our water quality is inferior or less safe than them; it simply means that their business (bottled mineral water which are handy) is booming and we should welcome them,” said Palma even as a fellow MNWD employee present during the press dialogue quipped that after all, their (mineral water operators) source mainly comes from our (MNWD) pipelines.
As to the protection of watersheds in Mt. Isarog, Palma said they have recently inked a Memorandum of Agreement with the DENR and the City Government of Naga, other law enforcement agencies such as both the PNP in Naga and Camarines Sur, and various stakeholders for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of a portion of Mt. Isarog that comprises the headwater sources of Kalinisan and Nabuntulan Springs in Bgy. Panicuason, this city. These water springs are essential in sustaining water supply to the lowlands, he said, that’s why their upkeep should be secured.
The agreement also provides collaboration with the police to ensure eco-tourism, environmental awareness, and socio-economic development for the protection and maintenance of the 10,000-hectare Mt. Isarog Natural Park that also serves as watershed area year in and year out.
As to the formal opposition registered by MNWD and other concerned stakeholders against the planned construction of a hydro-plant in the bosom of Mt. Isarog that is feared to affect MNWD’s water source, Palma said they are still waiting for the final reply and action by DENR Secretary Gina Lopez on the matter.
Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion who was also among the resource speakers in the Kapihan said the city is all out in its support to the plans and programs of the MNWD as far as conservation, expansion and protection of power supply are concerned, including tourism promotion in Mt. Isarog.
He disclosed that a building-cum-reception center had been constructed near Malabsay Falls for the convenience of visitors and tourists, aside from the construction/rehabilitation of steps and railings that lead to the falls.
He also revealed that SM Foundation had volunteered to sustain tree planting around the affected area in Mt. Isarog by providing site for seedling production and site development. He added that the city had purchased a 1.6-hectare property in Panicuasion where recreational facilities, which will include a restaurant and hall for seminars will be put up.
Answering questions from newsmen, Palma revealed that the MNWD is always preparing for the future when potable water supply would inevitably be depleted due to burgeoning population and trade and commerce.
Construction boom has been seen in Naga in recent years, with more malls, commercial buildings and subdivisions rising that all require more supply of water for drinking and commercial uses.
Palma said they are closely working with the Bicol Institute for Science and Technology to expedite the production and propagation of rainwater harvester equipment in all public and private establishments, including residential houses that will catch rainwater to be used during dry periods to augment normal supply.
He also revealed that the MNWD had begun to develop a 6-hectare site in Bgy. Carolina for sewerage and water treatment plant that will cleanse water source and recycle used water into tap water.
The Kapihan sa Metro Naga is a regular dialogue interaction by invited resource speakers with members of the local media on issues affecting the city and the business sector. It is jointly facilitated by the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, PIA, KBP-Camarines Sur, and the City Government of Naga, with private establishments partnering as hosts and sponsors.