Baguio is a city of roughly 250 000 permanent residents located north of Manila in the Luzon Province of the Philippines. Its population increases during the summer months, as a result of visitors drawn to its cool mountain weather as an escape from the hotter lowlands. The Baguio Water District is main water provider for the city; the city government used to manage the system, but ran into problems and so transferred the responsibility to the water district.
Springs and rivers from the mountainous areas provide some alternate sources of water, but the primary water supply for the city is groundwater. Many households in the city still do not have adequate water access from the Water District, and so numerous water filling stations and water vendors fill in the gaps. These small-scale independent providers generally have their own deep wells. In theory, water extraction by the independent providers is regulated by the Water District, but this does not always happen in practice.
Water supply is dependent on a stable power supply, since pumping groundwater to the city’s high elevation is energy intensive. There is an issue of water scarcity, but one that should not be necessary in an area with a high seasonal rainfall.
The topography and elevation of the city pose unique challenges to water access in the area. The threat of earthquakes presents problems for laying piped infrastructure, and many pipes in the city are above ground. The high elevation means that energy needs are high for water provision, as the pumping is energy intensive. There are debates between Local Government Unit officials about where the source water should come from, since it currently is drawn from groundwater, but little is known about the extent of the groundwater reserves and the threat of subsidence is a concern for the area. Now, the government is attempting to improve water management, and has just released a sustainable water integrated management and governance plan to deal with some of the problems.
Beyond Ideology: “Public or Private” is Not the Question
Recommendations for Policy Makers for Choosing Institutional Arrangements for Improving Urban Water Provision
Kate Neville (2007)
Master’s of Environmental Science Candidate
Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES)