NAVAL, Biliran– An agriculturist in a town in Biliran has suggested that farmers in the province should plant crops that do not require a considerable amount of water, such as corn and root crops, and use improvised water impounding systems as a countermeasure to the expected dry spell caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Brian Sinangote, the municipal agriculturist of Almeria town, suggested during a recent joint meeting of the Provincial Development Council, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and the Committee on Solid Waste Management, which was convened to discuss measures that the province will adopt to mitigate the effects of El Niño.

Sofronio B. Dacillo, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (PDRRMO) of Biliran, reported that according to the Climate Outlook report, several provinces in Luzon have already experienced drought, while most provinces, including Biliran, are currently facing dry conditions.

In said report, a place under dry conditions is experiencing below-normal rainfall conditions for two consecutive months; dry spell-below normal rainfall conditions for three consecutive months or way below normal rainfall conditions for two consecutive months; and drought-below normal rainfall conditions for five consecutive months or way below rainfall conditions for three consecutive months.

Julia Sandiford, the provincial agriculturist of Biliran, urged community leaders to assist the Office of the Provincial Agricultural Services in promoting measures to mitigate the impact of the dry conditions that Biliran is currently experiencing.

The general manager of the Naval Water District (NWD), Eulalio G. Maderazo, clarified that water scarcity is a problem in Naval town and other parts of the country. He has appealed for understanding from the water concessionaires in Naval, as there has been a 50 percent drop in the water supply in the town.

He appealed to Gov. Gerard Roger M. Espina to provide financial support to NWD. The water district cannot implement its proposed projects worth P16 million to improve the water supply. This is due to the P35 million loan that the water district took, and he has been paying amortization and penalties since he assumed the top post of the NWD.

During the meeting, the provincial government allocated a budget of P5.3 million for installing waterworks pipes under the Investment Plan for DRRM Trust Fund 2024 to improve the potable water supply.

Naval Mayor Gretchen Stephanie M. Espina reported that the LGU of Naval has allocated an additional P1.5 million to enhance the water supply in the Naval town.

Dr. Joyce Pla-Caneja, the chief of Biliran Provincial Hospital (BPH), reported that the BPH is now taking steps to address the critical water supply situation of NWD, which significantly affects the hospital’s operation.

One of the short-term steps of the BPH is to set up temporary tanks in identified areas in Naval, Almeria, or Kawayan that have sources of fresh water and provide water bladders.

As for the long-term steps, the BPH plans to purchase five additional reserve tanks with a capacity of 3,500 liters and five sets of 200-liter PVC drums and rehabilitate the existing deep well line. (AAC/RSV/PIA Biliran)