Zamboanga City Water District

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Zamboanga city water district.jpg
Seal of Zamboanga City Water District
Zamboanga city water district pilar street zamboanga city.jpg
Zamboanga City Water District
Zamboanga dam for water district.jpg
The tiny water dam of zamboanga city

Pilar Street, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines

+63 62 991 1556

Creating a Reservoir by building a Dam for Water supply and hydroelectricity

  • By: Franklin H. Maletsky, founder of
Written in January 5, 2000

The Tumaga river is a source of life for the city of Zamboanga. It's water source comes from the great Watershed Reservation. The watershed provides drinking water for the entire Zamboanga City. However, when there is drought, Zamboanga city suffers from low water supply. Then when it rains too much the river floods and causes devastation. Hmmmm. Maybe there is a way to manage this water source. There is! Manage it for the unlimited amount of water supply and for flood control.

The great Tumaga river floods every year. The Watershed Reservation sometimes gets inundated with rain, so the excess water floods the Tumaga river and it's other small river outlets. The Tumaga river flooding is normal. But there is a flooding cycle about every 25-40 years and when this happens, flood waters rises over river banks and into the streets of neighboring lowland barangays (Guiwan, Putik, Tugbungan, Sta.Catalina and more). Properties get destroyed, loss of animal lives and occasionally human lives.

At the source of the Tumaga river which is only about 5 kilometers from the barangay of Pasonanca, the river can be dammed. It is naturally bordered by hills and mountains from 200 to 400 meters high.

By doing this the City of Zamboanga will never ever suffer from water shortages or flooding. There will be enough water supply even for the irrigation of farms. I have lived in Tumaga most of my life and this river never ran dry. The old folks much older than I am, attest to this same fact. The creation of this man-made lake may even be used for recreational purposes and to propagate the local species of fresh water fish for recreational fishing.

There is also a possible second benefit. Hydroelectric power can be generated from this dam.

If there is pro-active planning for this construction, turbines for generators can be planned into the construction of the dam. There will be enough electricity generated from these turbines to provide ample electricity for the entire City of Zamboanga and the Zamboanga peninsula.

If the city does not have the budget for this project, I am absolutely positive that private investors will be lined up to to invest in the construction of this dam. This will give Zamboanga City ample supply of water and electricity.

Imagine that! No more black outs and no more water rationing. Even the farmers will benefit in terms of irrigation.

This is the proposed area of the Reservoir. Mt. Columbato (Pulumbato) will be located to the right of the Dam. It is a natural border. The area of the reservoir (LAKE) will be approximately 4 square kilometers. That is a good sized lake that can conserve all the water during the rainy season. The Tumaga river is known to have very disastrous floods every 30 to 40 years. Not just an ordinary flood but flooding that covers even the streets of Guiwan, Putik and other neighboring barrios. No more flooding incidents. No more lives lost. No more properties destroyed. No more water rationing. No more blackouts.

There will be an extra benefit to this project. It will be an inland water resort. Great for fresh water fishing and boating. Zamboanga City does not have a large inland body of water. We only have ponds. This will be about a 400 to 600 hectare lake. The water level of the lake will be about 150 meters, enough to generate pressure for power turbines to electrify the entire city of Zamboanga.

Zamboanga City Reservoir.png
The reservoir (lake) will be about 400 to 600 hectares.
Mt. Columbato is the marker point for the DAM itself.

  • Google Map of the proposed reservoir area:

ZCWD takes steps as water rationing looms

By Ed D. Banos (ZCWD CREAS)

The Zamboanga City Water District is working on counter measures as it prepares to move into possible water rationing in the face of continued decline of water levels at its water source.

Engr.Teotimo Reyes, Jr., head of water production, disclosed that water elevation at the diversion weir (dam) stood at 74.10 meters which is lower than the normal level of 74.20, which considered as critical level.

Reyes disclosed ,if water levels continue to drop, the water firm will have to resort to water rationing this summer season.

“Right now, our water production management team is currently testing a novel system of regulating water flow to consumers through a pressure ment system that will seek to evenly distribute water pressure in the pipes and allow water to flow into the consumers’ households,” Engr.Efren Salvacion of the Department said.

This scheme will allow water to build up on off peak hours and help keep water in the pipelines at all times, Salvacion added.

The ZCWD’s pipeline network is divided into three major zones, namely: central which is the downtown area of the city, the east coast and the west coast.

Water will be piped alternately into these zones to provide most of the water consumers ample opportunity to store enough water for the day’s use.

“The past years’ experience in water system management during the summer season has provided valuable insights to our engineers in looking at ways and means to provide water during the hot dry summers,” Reyes revealed.

Accordingly, the city is vulnerable to water source dry up as it is being supplied by surface water via the Tumaga river and its tributaries.

Salvacion and Reyes also added that the new scheme they are currently testing on will hopefully improve water distribution this summer and provide steady water supply despite low water pressure brought about by decreasing water inflow into the system.

Earlier, ZCWD General Manager Leonardo Rey Vasquez called on everyone to start storing water in case water supply inflow does not improve in the weeks ahead. Vasquez also added that people should make judicious use of water during the hot summer months.

Water Rationing 2015

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Zamboanga Water Shed controlled by DENR

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map showing the location of the Zamboanga City Watershed

The size of the current (as 2012) watershed of zamboanga city in only 10 hectares. Too small to to provide water to the 1.5 million people of Zamboanga City. The map seems to show a very large area but most of the area is controlled by the DENR and not Zamboanga City. The DENR and the city of Zamboanga are negotiating to have most of the land (17,000 hectares) controlled by the DENR to be annexed to Zamboanga City so the rehabilitation process can be under better management.

The watershed is located in upper Pasonanca park and it is the sole source of the Tumaga river which runs through the barangays of Pasonanca, Tumaga, Guiwan, Tetuan and Tugbuan.

Zamboanga City Water Treatment Plant

Located in the barangay of Pasonanca. Water from the Tumaga River is diverted to this purification and filtration plant to provide water to the City.

Zamboanga Water district Dam

The diversion dam on the Tumaga River was constructed about 4.1 kilometer upstream to divert some water to the Water Treatment Plant. The dam is made of reinforced concrete construction. It has 18 meters long crest, 3.50 meters toe to crest height. It has an elevation of 74.20 meters above sea level. It’s main purpose is to divert water coming from the source (watershed) to the treatment plants thru the two transmission lines especially during summer season when streamflow is below normal.

The original water system in Zamboanga City was built by the United States colonial government in 1911 for the purpose of serving the needs of US forces in the city at the time. It consisted of an intake box, a grit removal basis, a three- kilometer reinforced concrete aqueduct, a reservoir and a distribution system. This was expanded in 1930.

Zamboanga City took over the management of the water system in 1948. The water system was subsequently named as Zamboanga City Waterworks and Sewerage System (ZCWSS). The city government, through a P2-million financing loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines, funded the repair and improvement of the water system.

Too many complaints about water shortage in Zamboanga City

Every year, the city goes through a cycle of water rationing. Why? Zamboanga City has so much water. Water for the water treatment plant is plentiful. Yet there is water rationing.

The water district is very familiar with drilling wells. It has done this in several places in Zamboanga City. But there is one place that it avoids drilling. It baffles the mind as to why not. There is a small dam in Pasonanca. It holds back very little water but it is a dam.

Why not drill right at the water intake of this dam. The river may run low and even run dry but the water at the aquifer will not run dry. It is always replenished. They can drill a deep well and pump the water directly to the Water treatment plant. The Pasonanca water treatment plant will NEVER EVER run out of water. It can then supply water to the entire East coast and West Coast. The days of water rationing will be over. Here is the best part: The water going to the treatment plant will never be murky because it comes from the well. Murky water coming from the river is one the biggest excuse that the water district has for lack of water. Their excuse is that it takes them longer to clear murky water. Duh!!! If you have the well water pumped into the treatment plant, there would be no downtime.

But why you might ask the brilliant minds of the water district refuse to do this. It is definitely not because of lack of funding.

Watershed Outposts

The DENR has constructed several outposts within the watershed and permanent government employees are on duty there to keep an eye on would be poachers and illegal harvesting of lumber.