Sangil: A serious problem not to be ignored

Max Sangil

DAILY too many issues we read on national dailies carrying screaming headlines. About extra judicial killings, impeachment vs the two top officials, Chinese incursion in our territory, traffic problems etc. etc. There is the danger that the government might lose focus on other important matters which I think even congress seems sidelined.

Let us start with the problem we experienced in Clark which can be used as a template for other communities, and hopefully will jolt to action the national government if read by its policy makers.

In 1993 the year when Republic Act 7227, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion Law went into effect, thus converting the former US military installation of Clark Air Base into a Clark Special Economic Zone, investors began coming in.

Many years later, and today, there are more than seven hundred locators and counting. In the 4,240 more or less hectares of the fenced area of the freeport manufacturing companies mushroomed. Hotels, housing subdivisions, leisure estates, banks, schools, casinos, food chains, industrial park and golf courses. All of which consume on a 24 hour basis large volume of water.

In a study, it showed that Clark Freeport today consume more than 25,400 cubic meters per day, the total output of the service provider. And at the rate of this development, Clark Freeport, including Angeles City and Mabalacat will soon face their biggest problem, water lack.

Of course everyone knows that we pumped water from the ground. We really don't know who and how they measure the aquifer. If Clark and the adjacent communities with their respective water districts pump water from the ground and retail to thousands of households with hefty profit, the question is if they have alternative plans in case there will be a drying up.

There is project concept called the Sapang Bato Watershed Area my friend, businessman Abong Tayag's output which he presented to the Angeles City Council. It is an integrated engineering development that would cover the Abacan river channel. It can be planned as a watershed that can be tapped as a source of bulk water. The location is in the area of Barangay Sapangbato, western portion of Clark Freeport.

Given its topography, the mountainous areas in Sapangbato and Sacobia, has a huge potential to house bulk water facilities. The Department of Environment and Natural resources can do the reforestation.

Even the Department of Energy should take look on this and may get involved and designed a run of the river mini hydroelectric plant that can sell power even on a limited capacity.

The general concept is to contain and manage the flow of water from upstream channels at the Sapangbato area to downstream creeks. In that case, a protective structure can be built. And if we really dream big, it can even be a two-lane toll road. Just like the river dike built in Porac where motorists coming from SCTEX can skip Macarthur Highway when going to Bacolor and City of San Fernando.

The only existing bulk water system in Central Luzon is in Bulacan. Built primarily by the Manila Water Sewerage System(MWSS) with support from other agencies and by the Bulacan province of P11 billion. It is now supplying needs of at least ten towns in that province. This is a serious concern.