San Miguel Corp.’s ‘a call to arms’
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2019 - 12:00am

San Miguel Corp. recently announced how their company wide program to conserve and reduce water consumption had been achieved beyond target by reducing non-product water use by 23% or an estimated 7,762,061 liters of water in 2018. This figure is a very promising achievement that makes SMC’s ultimate target to reduce non-product water use by 50 percent in the year 2025, a very realistic goal. But more than water conservation or an estimated savings of P302.841 million, what San Miguel Corp. is actually doing is calling everybody’s attention to a serious concern and potential threat 10 to 20 years from now. While policy makers and the media have not seriously picked up on the matter, experts in environmental management and conservation have cautiously hinted that water shortage may become the single serious threat to all in terms of limited resources.

As we enter the year 2019, we have already been alerted about an impending El Niño weather situation and by May this year I believe it would be safe to predict that residents of Metro Manila will once again be confronted with water shortage or rationing as our dams all start to run dry. I can understand if decision makers tend to snub activists and NGOs as alarmists or tree hugging nut jobs but when a globally respected corporation such as SMC embarks on a serious water conservation program, exceeds their timetables and set targets, and save hundreds of millions, government officials and self-respecting business leaders should seriously pay attention to what can only be termed “a call to arms,” not to mention how to save a finite resource and make money.

It is also worth noting that whenever SMC COO Ramon Ang starts up a discussion or a business plan, 9 times out of 10, the guy is right or makes a lot of sense. Most people used to dismiss his plans and ideas until most of them woke up left behind or not part of the AGENDA. Whether it’s petro chemicals, power, roadways, airports, dams etc., Ramon Ang’s ideas have always been backed by research and teams of experts behind him. While RSA has presented the water conservation as a corporate achievement, those responsible in terms of preserving this limited resource should move to follow his lead in drumming up awareness on how serious we need to be about cutting water consumption and insuring that our natural resources can be revitalized for our needs in the immediate future.

For starters the DENR which deserves all praises for having a breakthrough mindset, should immediately initiate an education campaign on the decreasing volumes and availability of water year round and the need for reduction in water consumption as well as water recycling or re-use. The department should likewise embark on a program that requires business establishments and communities to have water collection and/or treatment facilities that enable companies and households to maximize water usage. Even the DILG can jump in by embarking on a program that requires architects and planners to incorporate systems that separate gray water from wastewater. Last but not the least, if people won’t reduce their use or waste of water, then the MWSS should make people pay the price for their wastefulness.

Water conservation is near and dear to me because I spent several years out on an island in Northern Palawan building a resort we named Club Paradise (now named and owned by Discovery Paradise). During my two years stint on the project, we had to draw water from a spring about 45 minutes away from the island and spent another 2 hours doing a slow crawl on a transport boat containing 20 drums of water. Some of the guys would do an “all-nighter” just to make sure we had enough water for human consumption. When you combine the cost of labor and transport, the price of the water was just so expensive. Because of the cost and challenge to get water, I incorporated special septic tanks for toilet bowls that used seawater since it was an abundant resource and the salt kills bacteria in the chambers. From there we progressed to Xeriscaping or using plants that required very little water.

Incidentally, if you love plants or having a garden, it is worthwhile to look into “how your garden grows” especially with helpers who think NAWASA water is “the” food for plants and gardens. We waste so much watering plants when what they need is correct potting material and fertilization and we also waste so much water washing cars especially SUVs! The more you wash your car the more you thin out its protective coating and shine and you increase the chances of rust happening to your vehicle! Even in my hobby involving aquariums that range from 1000 to 8000 gallon tanks, I incorporate outside filters that are so efficient that I am able to limit water change to 10% every 3 to 6 months. In our small backyard farm, we built similar tanks that allow us to process and filter wastewater from our small piggery and use both water and slurry for plants. This not only gives us water for the garden but also comes with nutrients from pig waste raised on premium BMeg feeds. People see pig poop but I see unused nutrients that plants love.

I sincerely hope we can all pass the word on San Miguel Corp.’s clarion call to wake up to the truth. Water is now a very limited resource and we all have to help save water in order to save ourselves!

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Email: talk2ctalk@gmail.com

EL NIñO SAN MIGUEL CORP.
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