On 3-4 Dec. 2014 more than 35 participants from government line agencies, local government units (province, municipality and barangay level), farmer associations, Mamanwa tribal leaders, small scale miners, the academe as well as concerned citizens followed the invitation of the Surigao Metropolitan Water District (SMWD) to discuss the projection of demand and supply for a sustainable water supply for the future of Surigao City and surrounding areas. The COSERAM program supported this joint efforts by Civil Society and the State to establish through a sustainable multi-stakeholder dialogue on peaceful natural resource management in line with the holistic ridge-to-reef (R2R) approach.
As Surigao City is growing rapidly, water demand from households and industry is increasing steadily as well. In a holistic approach, irrigational water use has to be considered as well. Currently SWMD is supplying about 21 000 m3/day to about 21,000 households and businesses from about 900 ha of catchment areas located mainly inside the Surigao Watershed Resource Reserve core zone and buffer zone. Based on a population growth of more than 2 % per year, SMWD will face a demand increase of more than 80 % in 20 years’ time. In addition, a similar amount of water is currently used to irrigate the current 1250 ha of agricultural areas in LGUs of Malimono, San Francisco, Surigao City and Sison.
Due to food need increases and higher variability of rainfall due to climate change, irrigational water needs are also likely to increase. Taking into account also water demands for the local LGU water systems about 100 % more water and accordingly 100 % more catchment area will be needed in the future. To visualize the overlap of water demand between irrigation and domestic use as well as other land uses, participants used a large map to outline current and future catchment areas.
The participants envisioned the probably (business as usual) scenario, the worst case scenario, un-thought of scenarios like a major natural disaster and the preferred scenario. The preferred scenario focused on the protection of the existing and delineation of more watersheds, the regulation of current small scale mining activities through a minahang bayan, limitation of destructive large-scale mining, creation of sustainable livelihood options like eco-tourism, empowerment of indigenous people, the unification of main stakeholders, increase in environmental awareness, the enforcement of environmental laws and co-management of barangay watersheds as well as the extension of localized water supply and rainwater harvesting in 20 years. From this vision, participants then discussed what steps have to be undertaken in 15, in 10, in 5 years and next year.
To be able to implement any of these envisioned goals and action plans, a convergence of efforts from all stakeholders would be needed. The participants discussed that it would be in the interest of the Provincial Government to convene a Watershed Council for the development of an integrated water resource management (IWRM) road map for the mainland of Surigao del Norte.
The current group could be the starting point for a Technical Working Group to provide data, recommendations and research to the Watershed Council. The group is now hoping for a positive endorsement of this concept by the Governor Sol F. Matugas.
By Dr. Anke Steinel, Technical Advisor to SMWD (incl. Photos)