With little rain over the past few months, Palau Public Utilities Corp. (PPUC) on Saturday put water rationing programs into effect for Koror and Airai States.
The two states are the most populated area in Palau. Residents will not have water for 14 hours every day. Water will be on from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 to 10 p.m
â€œPlease be advised that the Ngerimel Dam has run out of water and the Ngerikiil River is very low now,â€ PPUC said in a public announcement issued on Saturday, March 12.
A day before the water rationing was implemented, a water schedule was expected after PPUC warned the public of â€œprolonged water rationing due to a worsening drought condition.â€
A schedule of water hours was expected early this week, but the water supply became critically low over the weekend requiring an immediate water rationing schedule.
The water hours will allow PPUC to fill and maintain water levels in all the distribution tanks in Koror and Airai to ensure a supply of water at the scheduled hours.
PPUC CEO Kione Isechal on Sunday announced the immediate implementation of the water rationing schedule.
There are two water sources for the Koror-Airai public water supply system, one is Ngerimel Dam and the other is Ngerikiil River. Ngerimel Reservoir holds approximately 15 million gallons of water, with the water treatment plant treating and distributing four million gallons per day, it takes four days to empty the reservoir.
If there’s a stretch of time without rain, the reservoir can drop drastically, due to the water consumption for Koror and Airai with more than 80 percent of Palauâ€™s population and many businesses and hotels. Water use is greater now than in previous years.
Water is pumped directly from the Ngerikiil River to the treatment plant and together with the reservoir water goes through the filtration and treatment process before it is distributed to customers. Without the Ngerikiil River water, the Ngerimel Dam cannot meet the demand for long.
Other states in Palau have been on water rationing for weeks before Koror and Airai. Ngarchelong, Ngaraard, Aimeliik and Peleliu are also on water hours.
The utilities company is urging the public to use water wisely and only for essentials such as drinking and cooking. â€œThe public is advised not to use water to wash cars, driveways, walkways and other nonessential activities,â€ stated PPUC in a release.
According to a drought information statement from the National Weather Service in Tiyan, Guam earlier this month, while the island has moved away from the peak of the El Nino event, â€œrainfall will likely be below normal over the next two months.â€
Palau is in an extreme drought category â€“ drought level 3 of 4. â€œCumulative rainfall for Koror over the past four months was the lowest recorded since 1951 at 17.65 inches, said a March 3 statement from the weather service in Guam.
The office of the presidentâ€™s press secretary, Olkeriil Kazuo, said that the situation was been discussed in a cabinet meeting Monday.
Kazuo said President Tommy Remengesau Jr. directed the members of the cabinet to â€œtake the situation seriously.â€
The president has made no declaration about the drought, but Kazuo said that the president has directed PPUC to work with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce to look for alternate sources of water supply.
The president is also awaiting full report from the National Emergency Management Office on the extent of the drought, but assured the public that the situation is under control.
Kazuo, however, assured the public that areas that need a regular water supply for essential services such as schools and the hospital are fully equipped with water tanks. He added that the El Nino situation will improve by May.