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Cebu rainfall lowest in years; drought hits 3 Cebu towns

First Posted 08:44:00 03/16/2010

With February and March recording the lowest amount of rainfall in Cebu, the towns of Daanbantayan, Bantayan and Madridejos were the hardest hit by the El Niño-induced dry spell, agriculture officials said yesterday.

?We will have the actual amount of damage from the crops by end of this week, but based on our assessment, these are the towns that are now affected,? said Tomasita Cadungog, chief of operations of the Department of Agriculture regional office in Central Visayas.

In yesterday's Provincial Board (PB) session Oscar Tabada, Cebu chief meteorologist of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said last month's rainfall was ?way below normal.? He said the condition worsened this month.

He said the average rainfall for 30 years in Cebu during February was pegged at 72.8 millimeters (mm).

The actual recorded rain in Cebu province was only 16 mm last February.

As of March 15, the Pagasa Mactan office had ?trace? data or immeasurable data on the actual amount of rainfall at less than 0.01 mm.

The province is expecting to have at least an average of 55.4 mm of rainfall.

As a result, Cadungog said they will organize mitigating measures to help farmers cope with the drought such as providing flower enducers for mango and trichogamma cards for corn farmers.

Seminars and irrigation projects will also be undertaken, she said.

Board Member Joven Mondigo Jr., who represents the three affected towns at the PB, said corn farm sales in Medellin town went down by 50 percent due to the dry spell.

Meanwhile, the Water Resource Center of the University of San Carlos proposed for the construction of more dams to resolve Cebu's water supply problems.

Dr. Father Herman Van Engelen, resource center director, said the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) only provides less than 50 percent of the water needs of Cebu's cities.

He also said Buhisan dam's surface water is not sufficient to answer the water needs of the cities' 1.5 million people.

Engelen said that politicians had continually blocked plans for water development projects as early as the 1980s.

?Water sources in Cebu City should be identified. But the mayor continually says no,? Engelen said.

Engelen referred to the proposed Lusaran Dam and Mananga dam some 20 years ago.

The Lusaran Dam can store 30 million cubic meter per day while the Mananga dam can store some 14 million cubic meter.

If they were completed then, Cebu City would have had sufficient water supply since 1990.

?They (politicians) are not interested to develop dams because other politicians will also get water,? Engelen said.

For now, he advised Cebuanos to make accurate observations on the weather trend.

?There is no El Niño study in Cebu. We simply have to listen to what other people says. Nobody is doing a serious work here. Meanwhile, we just observe? he said.

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