Water District features

P
agadian City is the capital city of the Province of Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao. It is classified as a second class city and is composed of 54 barangays. Its population of 161,300 generally relies on a livelihood based on agriculture and fishing. The city's topography is irregular, one that is probably comparable to that of Tagaytay City.

Water Supply

The city's potable water supply is provided by the Pagadian City Water District (PCWD). Formed in 1976, the PCWD has over 14,000 active service connections and sources its water from deep wells and springs. One of these spring sources is the Manga Spring located at Barangay Manga.

The Manga Spring

Manga Spring sits about 40 meters above sea level but is located on a deep ravine more that 200 meters below the average ground level of the barangay proper. Developed by the local government in the early 90's, the spring's development was turned over to PCWD in 2000. The water district has continuously improved on the original spring development since then. The source now yields 40 liters per second, and water is pumped twice before reaching the 300 cubic meter reservoir that PCWD has constructed at the barangay proper.

Water sourced from the Manga spring is PCWD's best in quality. Aside from the usual laboratory tests regularly conducted on water sourced from this spring, a "special test" was also conducted back in 2000 by Japanese experts, during a training-seminar jointly conducted by LWUA and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Roxas City, Capiz. More than 20 water districts participated, one of which was PCWD. All participating water districts were required to bring raw water samples of their sources for actual testing using a state-of-the-art laboratory equipment brought in by the Japanese experts cum resource persons. It was determined that the water sample from Manga spring was best among other samples tested during that training-seminar.


Manga Waterfalls at Pagadian City's Manga Spring watershed area

What somehow baffled the Japanese experts was the result of the electric conductivity test made on the water sample from Pagadian City's Manga Spring. The test would determine whether the water's source is a spring or a deep well. Results showed that the Manga Spring water was from a deep well, contrary to the PCWD representative's (the author) claim that it came from a spring source. It was then surmised that the spring's location was probably not a ravine before, but due to soil erosion or some geologic movements in the past, scouring could have exposed the aquifer.

Old timers of Pagadian City claim that there indeed was a big earthquake during the 50's that caused massive erosion and made most parts of the Panguil Bay's shores swampy where it was not before. The Manga area could have been eroded the same way.

The Manga Spring is a special water source and PCWD has committed its resources towards its proper protection.

Manga Watershed

PCWD has purchased 11 hectares of rolling land surrounding the Manga Spring, including the steep slopes, and conveniently calls it the "Manga Watershed" although it could actually be just a buffer zone. The spring is approximately at the center of the 11-hectare buffer zone. The area would have been nothing more than an ordinary land except that it has turned out to be the "birthplace" of a bigger project.


Officers and members of Pagadian City's Knights of Columbus get their hands soiled for environmental rehabilitation. Their output: 15,000 seeds planted as of April 2007

Within the area are pristine trees, a clear-water creek, a waterfall and and varied wildlife: birds, wild cats (locally known as maral or milô) snakes, wild monkeys (more than 20 heads as of the latest count), and other species. First growth dao, bogo, lawaan, apitong trees, and other wild varieties are within the area. The Manga Watershed is usually foggy, especially during the rainy season.

However, some portions of the 11-ha. land are denuded, a result of earlier kaingin (slash and burn) activities. Surrounding the area are farms planted mostly to coconut trees and corn, and rice fields downstream.

Tree planting activity was initiated by the Pagadian City Water District, wholeheartedly supported by many non-government organizations (NGOs) that include the Rotary Club of Pagadian, the Rotary Club of Pagadian West, the Inner Wheel Club of Pagadian, the Inner Wheel Club of Pagadian West, the different councils of the Knights of Columbus in Pagadian City, Couples for Christ, Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries and partners, students of many schools, government employees, CWL and other church organizations.

The Rotary Clubs of Pagadian and Pagadian West in one of their tree planting activities for PCWD'S "A Million Trees Project" (Photos above and below)

A section of the 11-ha. area has been named "Rotary Hill" in recognition of the tree planting activity the Rotarians conduct in that section annually.

Sometimes, tree-planting activities slow down due to lack of seedlings. Some government agencies that are tasked to provide the planting materials simply say they have none, or if seedlings are available, these are for sale. This poses a challenge to PCWD's vision to reforest its watershed, but PCWD has summoned its resolve to meet the challenges head-on.

The Bigger Project

The Manga Watershed provides the inspiration for PCWD to push further. In the later months of last year, it launched its "A Million Trees" (1MT) Project. The project aims to plant one million trees within Pagadian City, covering 54 barangays. Buoyed by the support of different groups in its tree planting activities earlier in Manga, PCWD has now gone into forest nursery and massive tree planting in all barangays in Pagadian City. Manga became the center of activity; it is where the forest nursery has been established.

The project's realization is gradual but PCWD aims to sustain it until one million trees are planted and grown. Late last year, it produced over 20,000 seedlings and distributed them to whoever was interested to plant trees, provided the area to be planted was within Pagadian City. The seedlings are given free.

As part of its resolve to see Pagadian City planted to a million trees, PCWD has taken to hiring, during summer, high school graduates and college students under the Summer Job Program and assigned them to seedling propagation activities at Manga.

The "1MT Project" is not as simple as it appears. At one time, PCWD propagated 16 kerocans of mahogany seeds estimated to be between 300,000 and 400,000 seeds. Sadly, not even 10% of it germinated. Upon inspection, the seeds, which were placed inside sacks, were found to be damp; they developed molds and died before they could propagate. It was part of PCWD's learninbg curve, so to speak. Recently, another seed propagation activity has been started, utilizing 30 kerocans of mahogany seeds which PCWD acquired from Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte.


Manga watershed shows off part of its lush greenery

Why mahogany? PCWD is an "amateur" as far as knowledge in forestry is concerned, although it is learning fast. It learned, for instance, that mahogany is not actually a Philippine variety and that it may not be friendly to Philippine birds. One critic cited that Philippine birds do not frequent mahogany trees.

On the other hand, why not? What entices Filipinos to plant trees? Help the environment? What about financial benefits?

Mahogany is a tree of commercial variety. Its lumber now sells at P30 to P40 per board foot, and the market is big. Mahogany trees grow fast, thus, their commercial feasibility is good.

Through the water district's regular radio program anchored by the GM Yorong himself, PCWD encourages people to help the environment by planting trees. He urges landowners, especially owners of lands which are not suited to crops because of their slopes or because these are rocky, and of lands simply not being tilled for whatever reason, to plant trees instead. Pagadian City has a total land area of 33,380 hectares. Assuming that there shall be 400 trees to a hectare, one million seedlings could only occupy 2500 hectares or 7.5% of the city's land area. And because every square inch of Pagadian City is a part of its watershed, these trees can definitely add protection to the watershed. The long term benefit is unquantifiable.


Rotary Hill, a section of the Manga Watershed planted with trees exclusively by Rotarians.

One million trees planted in Pagadian City is not the ultimate goal of the project, however. PCWD intends to increase that number in the future, and not limit the coverage area to Pagadian City alone. Neighboring towns may avail of or adopt the project. When people start reaping what they planted and realize that there's actually money in it, replanting may follow.

More seedlings are needed and the cycle may run infinitely. PCWD is also considering for this project other varieties as well, especially fruit trees. But this will depend on the people's enthusiasm to plant.

The project entails costs but is duly provided for by PCWD in its yearly budget outlay. It is happy to do so, encouraged by the fact that the project is being supported by different sectors: the NGOs, the GOs, the barangay people, the city government, students and youth, and most of all, by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"ANG TUBIG KINABUHI. ATO KINING GAMITON SA HUSTO, TINUBDAN ATONG AMPINGAN!"

 

© 2008 Local Water Utilities Administration, MWSS-LWUA Complex, Katipunan Road, Balara, Quezon City, Philippines
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