That water is a precious resource is dramatized every time the dry season hits a blazing peak from March to May.
That means now, when authorities warn that the dams supplying water to Metro Manila are approaching critical levels. In the provinces, high temperatures and lack of water are not only affecting farmlands needing irrigation but also exacerbating the horrific conditions in evacuation centers.
In Metro Manila earlier this month, Manila Water’s head of corporate communications Jeric Sevilla said Angat Dam—the primary source of the metropolis’ water supply—was at 190 meters, five meters below the “normal curve rule” of 195 meters but still higher than the critical level of 180 meters. He added that the firm’s customers had no need to worry, and that it had contingency plans in place. The other water concessionaire, Maynilad Water, has announced service interruption of up to three days during the Holy Week in six Metro areas and outlying provinces. It said it would deploy stationary water tanks in certain areas and employ “24/7” water rationing for hospitals. National Power Corp. president Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita has said that Metro Manila’s share of the water coming from Angat was reduced when summer began.
All these contribute urgency to the call recently issued by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje for the public to be mindful of its water consumption, “not only to save money on water bills, but more importantly, to protect this precious resource.” He reminded the public, correctly, “that water is not only for domestic or household use.”
Indeed, water is in great demand in these sweltering days, whether for household, industrial, or agricultural use. The National Water Resources Board has in fact reduced the volume available for irrigation. “We have to share our supply with the agricultural sector to irrigate our farmlands, which are vulnerable during the dry season, and with the power sector to generate electricity, which is more in demand now for cooling purposes,” Paje said.
On World Water Day last March 22, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources called attention to the link between water usage and energy consumption. The processes of producing energy and providing fresh water are interconnected, and this linkage now faces limitations and problems. “Much of our generated power relies on water, while many Filipinos rely on electrical power for their domestic water supply,” Paje said then.
Some 17 million Filipinos do not have access to clean drinking water, per government estimates. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Undesa) has warned that every continent is now affected by water scarcity, and that as many as 1.2 billion people do not have enough fresh water—a situation brought about by natural and manmade factors. The Undesa further says that 500 million more people will soon be added to that number, and that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will have its water supplies “under stress conditions.” According to a 2012 report by Al-Jazeera, the continued deterioration of water supplies worldwide can easily lead to armed conflict over the so-called “blue gold.”
Given the precarious state of the planet and its resources, water conservation should be the bounden duty of every household and enterprise, big or small. Paje reminded everyone to reduce and reuse: Don’t waste, use only what’s needed; reuse for other purposes, such as laundry water for cleaning cars or floors or for flushing toilets. Also, and most important, stop throwing trash in waterways as this can lead to water contamination (not to mention flooding). These are simple tasks of conservation that go a long way.
Here’s another all-important task: the immediate report and repair of busted and leaking water pipes that ensure the steady and heartbreaking loss of this finite resource. It behooves all of us, public and private, young and old, to treat water as the irreplaceable treasure that it is. Heed the water warning.
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