President Marcos orders completion of water projects amid El Niño

Helen Flores, Elizabeth Marcelo, Diana Lhyd Suelto - The Philippine Star
President Marcos orders completion of water projects amid El Niño
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. inspects the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project on February 7, 2024.
Presidential Communications Office

MANILA, Philippines — To avert a potential water shortage especially during El Niño, President Marcos ordered yesterday the immediate completion of all water projects in the country being undertaken by both the private and public sectors.

Marcos said water scarcity is no longer a seasonal challenge but a perpetual threat that comes with climate change.

“It is for this reason that I continually stress the urgency of improving water security, and directed agencies concerned to expedite the completion of all water projects across the country,” the President said in his speech during the inauguration of the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project.

“Any disruption to the water supply, such as the one posed by the El Niño phenomenon, which we are feeling the effects of now, degrades our quality of life, it dampens economic activities and can fuel disorder,” he said.

The Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project is one of the country’s largest private bulk water supply facilities under the Aboitiz-led Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc. in partnership with the Davao City Water District (DCWD).

The project aims to shift Davao City’s dependence on groundwater by tapping into the Tamugan River.

Marcos said the state-of-the-art facility is not just about supplying Davao City with bulk water, but ensuring that its people are provided with clean water to improve their quality of life.

At present, the facility has been delivering 300 million liters of potable water per day to over one million households in Davao City, the President noted.

The facility, he said, is in line with the administration’s shift in policy of taking water from surface water sources rather than from digging wells.

“The Davao City Bulk Water Supply project is also a concrete step for us to lessen our reliance on limited groundwater by tapping the Tamugan River as a sustainable water source,” Marcos said.

“This is very important as we have changed policy and we are now starting to feel the effects of what we have been doing in the past, that is digging wells. And our aquifers are already starting to feel the effects and they are not being replenished enough, which is ironic because we have sufficient surface water in the Philippines. The Philippines is not a dry country,” he said.

Marcos earlier warned El Niño – which is associated with drought – is projected to last until June this year and would continue to pose a great threat to the agricultural sector in the remaining months of 2024.

Yesterday’s inauguration was attended by Aboitiz president Sabin Aboitiz and DCWD board chair Edgardo Bangayan. 


A consortium led by Oxfam Pilipinas distributed water conservation kits to up to 2,000 families in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to mitigate the adverse effects of the impending dry spell.

Included in the items recently distributed to the families in BARMM were water conservation tools and storage, hygiene kits and vegetable seeds.

“We need to intensify our collective efforts to mitigate the adverse impact of El Nino as it peaks, safeguarding the health, food security, peace and overall safety and protection of vulnerable communities,” Oxfam Pilipinas executive director Erika Geronimo said in a statement.

Oxfam Pilipinas said that based on data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and Manila Observatory, communities within the Special Geographic Area in BARMM are most likely to bear the brunt of El Niño’s impact starting in the first quarter of the year.

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