Government authorities are now cognizant that pumping water from the aquifer is not a good policy. However, since the Mendoza-Rocha Waterworks in 1912 or more than 100 years ago, it has been the procedure used in Tagbilaran.
The recommendation is to utilize the Loctob Water Spring in Loboc, Bohol as the source of bulk water supply. There have been many studies in this regard, and the conclusion is that it is not enough.
Tagbilaran Water Supply
When Tagbilaran was made into a town on February 9, 1742 the town was not progressive due to the lack of freshwater supply. The Poblacion area had only one water well at Sitio Ubos. Mansasa had settlers because it had a water well.
The area with abundant water supply was towards the barrio of Talotô. There was a water well, a spring and a pool at Lungkajab. It is now the location of the “Birhen sa Barangay” Church and the water spring has already dried up.
Another water well was located at Tuhód, Booy at what is now Peñaflor Street. Another water well is located at Cang-agbo at Basák, Talotô (Still existing). Another water well is at the present site of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary (Still existing).
A natural water spring flowed at the Ubujan Spring near the old garage of the MB Liner Transportation. It dried up in 1972. Another water spring was located in Mangga District at the area some distance in front of the Iglesia Ni Cristo Church.
During Spanish times, there were more residents living in barrio Talotô than in Poblacion Tagbilaran. Talotô was able to develop its own church and cemetery. There was more rich people in Talotô than in Poblacion Tagbilaran because potable water was easy to obtain.
When the Americans conquered Bohol, Poblacion Tagbilaran was where the Americans lived because it was the Capital of the Province.
Governor Macario Sarmiento wanted to establish a waterworks but there was difficulty in locating a water source because dug wells were salty. It was during the incumbency of Gov. Fernando Rocha in 1912 that the waterworks was finally realized. A freshwater source for pump well was found. It was located in the now Soledad Street towards the back of Mr. Lumayag’s residence.
A concrete reservoir tank was constructed and water was piped in to the houses. It was the start of the important people of Tagbilaran to move from Talotô to Poblacion.
When the population increased the extraction of water was also increased. Soon the water supply became brackish and the well was abandoned.
Another well was soon dug at what is now known as Inglish St. It was located to rear of the old “Girl Scout” Building located at the lot owned by the Tagbilaran Womens Club. The water tank reservoir was constructed near and at the rear of Philippine National Bank.
This well also became salty and another well was dug at the Central School area. It lasted for some time. When it became brackish, the water well and the reservoir “tower” was constructed at Dampas District. The water tower is still existing.
The main water well being pumped and supplied to the water tower was at the depression in “Karaw-an” Dampas. It lasted for a long time. However, it soon because brackish due to over extraction and new sources have to be located. The dug water well was pumped and directly distributed to the residents of Tagbilaran. It is still the situation today.
The underground supply of freshwater is not easily recharged and over pumping or over extraction of water will cause the seawater to seep in. There have been many pumping stations that have become “salty” and abandoned and new wells are dug “inland”. Now the main supply for freshwater in Tagbilaran are pumped from Kankatak, Corella. It is estimated that soon it will become salty due to over extraction because of the huge demand in Dauis and Panglao.
Now there is a plan to get additional water supply from surface waters such as rivers and springs.
Way back in the 1980s, Engr. Facundo Alabat, the head of the Provincial Utilities Department was tasked to search for surface water sources. He studied the Loboc River. The expected supply is the whole Loboc River and not only the Loctob Spring.
The exit of the tailrace of Tontonan Falls and hydroelectric plant will be impounded and treated and made as the water supply.
It viable because electric power is available to operate the water treatment plant and pumping the water for distribution.
When I was a member of the City Council of Tagbilaran (1988-1995) I made a study about the Abatan River. It is a viable source of water by damming the river between Loreto, Cortes and Tupas, Antequera. The problem is the impounded water will submerge more than one-half the area of the town of Balilihan.
When the Loctob Spring in the Loboc River was planned as the water source of Loay, Bohol, Congressman Zaraga hired the services of Dr. Rafael Apostol, who was a Ph.D. in Hydraulics from Dundee University, Scotland.
One of the plant of Dr. Apostol was to construct a huge cistern where the water will be stored and treated. I knew Dr. Apostol when I studied at the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand. I was hired by Dr. Apostol to design the cistern.
An inherent problem of the cistern was that it will be submerged if the river will overflor its banks. The area is too constricted to allow for huge storage of water. Another problem is there is little elevation and area for water treatment. It causes the designed system to be expensive.
The freshwater output of the Loctob Spring is not enough even for the towns of Loboc and Loay alone. For additional supply you must utilze the freshwater spring at the other side of the river known as “Himilian” and it is another problem for design and additional expenses.
The most unexpected design problem was the buoyancy of the cistern when it is flooded by the river. It causes the cistern to be unstable. Finally the concept of the cistern was abandoned.
In my opinion, based on my experience when I designed the cistern, the Loctob Spring alone is not enough to supply the projected seven (7) towns including Tagbilaran. The plan of Engr. Alabat to utilize the immediate overflow at the dam is much better.