Iloilo City now bracing for possible flooding amid continuing El Niño

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Iloilo City government expressed on Monday, April 29, that it has started bracing for a possible La Niña, which may hit after the current El Niño phenomenon eases between June and August.

CDRRMO chief Donna Magno said that since their office’s forecast last year, they have been expecting the two phenomena to overlap within the middle of this year.

She said that the National Resilience Council met with them last week, where the group shared three El Niño scenarios.

These include experiments of pouring over a glass of water on wet grass when more than half a glass was absorbed, normal summer when only around half was absorbed, and extreme heat when three-fourths still remained.

“When we go back to the city’s risk profile, we know that we are flood-prone. So it is expected that we will have to carry that weight. […] If the heat is extreme now, then the soil will become very thirsty, and we thought that the soil would absorb that, but it doesn’t. The runoff is significant, so expect that there will be flash floods, because [the water] cannot be absorbed by the soil and the trees,” Magno said.

Magno cited that the CDRRM Council has reprogrammed its budget, with P17 million realigned last year to develop rainwater harvesting facilities.

It has also programmed P15 million this year to continue the said development, and current barangay annual investment plans are also being assessed by the CDRRMO to

The city government also has a regular budget for cisterns to be set up at the city’s plazas, earmarked at P12 million, in addition to the already existing one at the La Paz Plaza.

These cisterns will catch rainwater, to be used in watering plants at these plazas, with some allocations also going to the Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue (Diversion Road).

She said that the public has to brace itself and adjust accordingly, as this is also expected to be different to previous iterations of the said phenomena.

“The public has to prepare for this kind of scenario. As it has been said, we cannot go back to the time of the Old Stone Age. Studies and assessments are showing that in the near future, the dry days will become drier, and the wet days will become shorter but very very wet,” she said.

The CDRRMC chief also urged residents to set up their own rainwater harvesting facilities so that they may be able to stock up in events of water shortage and unavailability.

City Regulation Ordinance No. 2021-322 (Iloilo City Rainwater Harvesting and Management Ordinance of 2021) provides for the proper collection, conveyance, storage, treatment, and utilization of rainwater in the city, including in private properties.


Iloilo City’s emergency potable water supply, as part of its response against the current water situation due to the El Niño phenomenon, is scheduled to be bid within Thursday or Friday, May 2 or 3.

The city government’s Quick Response Fund (QRF) allocation of P12.54 million, which was approved on April 22 as part of the state of calamity declaration by the Sangguniang Panglungsod, was solely dedicated to acquiring 696,900 liters of potable water, or water which is safe for drinking.

This will be distributed among affected barangays for the next 3 months, with consideration for the individual projection of 15 liters needed per day.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas reiterated that this would be bought mainly from the city’s main water utilities, Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) and South Balibago Waterworks (SBW).

The mayor noted that SBW, which supplies water for domestic use to parts of Jaro district and neighboring Leganes town, will be providing a greater portion of this, with the remaining to be provided by the MPIW.

This comes amid MPIW announcing last Friday, April 26, that its water levels had reached a critical point, together with rationed water schedules across its service area.

Its April 29 water supply advisory, as of 11:00 a.m., indicated that levels at the Maasin Dam were at 93.68 meters, just 0.08 meters short of the 93.60 meters critical level, while total bulk water supply was at 57.347 million liters per day (MLD), already below the critical level of 65 MLD.

“[SBW] hasn’t given us any notice of trouble on their end. So while [MPIW] is saying that they are at critical levels, [SBW] hasn’t,” the mayor said.

He said that while they wanted to procure the water right away, he was advised at a conference of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) in the city, which focused on government procurement, that this also needed to go through bidding.

The mayor stated that the bidding process was an opportunity for other water-related entities to offer what they may have.

“If there are other [water] players, we’ll play with you. […] If [MPIW] cannot comply, then we will have to go to [SBW], who has given assurance that they will have the quantity we need,” he said.

The mayor expects the bid to be finished within this week, and the procured water to be distributed next week.

Treñas also raised the possibility that if the current P12.54 million allocation isn’t sufficient, he might request an additional allocation from the QRF.

Under the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office’s (CDRRMO) Local DRRM Fund (LDRRMF), there has been a total of P54 million allocated as QRF.

Aside from the El Niño response allocation, the city had also previously programmed P16.9 million for its pertussis outbreak response.

He also shared that the 10,000 liters of water donated by FLO Water Resources, Inc., one of MPIW’s bulk water suppliers, would be the first to be distributed, but carrying trucks will also have to be bidded out.

Aboitiz InfraCapital also met with the mayor in the previous week to pitch a bulk water project, among others.

The company, through its unit Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., is currently undertaking a P12-billion bulk water project in Davao City, in partnership with that city’s water utility, Davao City Water District.