ILOILO CITY– Department of Science and Technology (DOST) together with British Geological Survey (BGS) and Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) is working on the Philippine Groundwater Outlook (PhiGO) project to deliver consistent, accessible, and transferrable assessments of climate and population change on regional groundwater resources, and to assess the subsequent influence on flood and drought risk, and socio-economics in Iloilo City and its surrounding areas.

On Monday, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña explained during the press conference that the installed sensors in Iloilo would be able to get real-time information on the water’s quantity and quality, specifically the static water level and the Power of Hydrogen (pH), temperature, and electrical conductivity, respectively.

The Philippine Groundwater Outlook (PhiGO) is a three-year collaborative project lead by Andrew Barkwith, Ph.D. from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Ma. Aileen Leah G. Guzman, Ph.D. from the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU).

This project is under the PH-UK Newton Agham Joint S&T Cooperation Program on Understanding the Impacts of Hydrometeorological Hazards in the Philippines.

The project’s objective will be accomplished through a combination of historical data analysis, real-time observational data, climate downscaling, ensemble-modeling, data assimilation, and statistical analysis. For this project, the study sites chosen were Iloilo City and its surrounding areas, and Angeles City and Mabalacat, Pampanga. These sites were named as part of the nine highly urbanized water critical cities in a study done by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1998.

Given the scope of work and various disciplines involved, the Philippine Groundwater Outlook collaborates with both the academe and national government agencies.

Imperial College London is involved as part of the UK constituents, while the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU), and Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) are involved as part of the Philippine constituents and at the same time act as support for both BGS and AdMU in delivering project outputs.

Through the course of three years, the project will develop near-real-time groundwater monitoring systems, enhanced models of regional groundwater dynamics, seasonal and long-term forecasts of groundwater levels, and stakeholder-focused reports of flood and drought risk and cascading hydrological and socio-economic impacts.

These outputs will be available through web-based platforms such as a project website and social media, as well as through dissemination routes defined by the stakeholders.

Workshops and training for capacity building will be held throughout the duration of the project both for the project constituents and the stakeholders.

At the end of the project, two self-constrained hubs will be developed for the project study sites. These self-constrained hubs will act as blueprints for undertaking similar research across other highly-urbanized water constrained regions in the Philippines. Aside from the wells in Iloilo, 14 Groundwater Monitoring Sensors were also successfully installed in Zamboanga City, Metro Manila, Cagayan de Oro, and Bukidnon.

Meanwhile, the remaining eight sensors will be installed in identified sites nationwide within the year.

In 1998, a study on Philippine water resource management by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and NWRB identified Iloilo City, Metro Manila, Bukidnon, and Cagayan de Oro as water critical areas.

Pavia was selected because it has sort of “abundance” of groundwater in the area while Iloilo City was not identified as the site where the systems will be installed because it has been known that the metropolis is already saturated and its waters are high in salinity. The Secretary also emphasized during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Iloilo Wells installed with a real-time sensor network at the Pavia National High School, Pavia, Iloilo that it is not the development where the DOST is giving importance but more so the technology transfer or know-how to the citizens to make the endeavor viable and sustainable for the benefit of the present and future generations.

“The DOST will continue to support the development of solutions to the pressing problems through research and development using science and technology-based methodologies not only regarding water resources but also of other environment resources”, the Secretary added. This project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for its British constituents and by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) for its Philippine constituents.

Currently, real-time monitoring can be accessed through (JRAGabiota)