Catanduanes hit by water, power crisis
By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY --- The island province of Catanduanes which is surrounded in the east by the Pacific Ocean and Lagonoy gulf in the southwest and Albay gulf in the south is experiencing a serious water crisis. Last Tuesday, Mayor Samuel Laynes of Virac town declared a state of calamity following the extreme water shortage in the capital town of the island province. Laynes, chairman of the municipal disaster risk reduction management council (MDRRMC), during an emergency meeting issued MDRRMC Resolution 2018-003 declaring the state of calamity. Water shortages were reported in the three main water reservoirs of Virac Water District in Kawayan, Sibanhan and Padurog. He said the local water district has resorted to rationing water because the water reservoirs have begun drying up. “The local water utility has been rotationally rationing water services due to low water level at three main water reservoirs that gone down to a level not recorded before,” Laynes said during the MDRRMC meeting held last August 20. During the same meeting, a representative from Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) blamed the depleting water source to climate change aggravated by ‘habagat’, a seasonal sea and wind movement. It said that the eastern seaboard of Luzon where Catanduanes also lies may experience a prolonged dry spell and the El Nino phenomenon may last until the year end with 68 percent probability due to southwest monsoon or (habagat). Following the state of calamity declaration, the town mayor recommended a freeze on the prices of commodities in the municipality, with close monitoring by the Department of Trade and Industry. Mayor Laynes has convened the owners of water refilling stations where he allowed a P10-peso increase per water container from P25 to P35 and no longer higher. Ramil D. Soliveres, a resident of Virac town told Bicol Mail that aside from water shortage, Catanduanes is also experiencing power crisis with its daily power outages. Virac, the capital town of the island province of Catanduanes, has a population of 80,000. Soliveres said his fellow villagers have to wait for water to flow in their faucets from 11:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. to ensure that they have water in the morning, no matter how scarce they may be. “We’re experiencing water crisis since March in my village wherein there’s no water during the day and no water at all in the other barangays,” Soliveres said. Virac is experiencing daily power outages from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. according to Soliveres. He blamed the water crisis to rampant illegal logging in the towns of Virac, Caramoran and San Miguel where the watersheds are located. “Weekly, almost two trucks of illegal lumber are apprehended in the towns Virac, Caramoran and San Miguel near the watersheds. We cannot also use the water source in Sto Domingo River because there is quarrying operation taking place in the upper area of the river,” he lamented. Virac is among five places in Bicol experiencing the El Nino phenomenon, according to Pagasa.