Photo says it all
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 1, 2015 - 10:00am

The photo says it all. A parched, cracked earth, dry and firm enough for people to stand and walk on. But this is not a farm or even a dry river bed, but the bottom of a dam. Dams are supposed to be filled with water, as they serve as reservoirs for both irrigation and water supply for cities. But in 2010, the water level of Angat Dam went down to 157.56 meters above sea level (masl). The critical level is pegged at 180 masl, so you can just imagine how dire the situation was at the time. Irrigation was cut off for farms, and water was rationed in Metro Manila. Angat Dam supplies water to farms in Bulacan and Pampanga, as well as Metro Manila's water supply. It was an El Niño year, which explained the dry spell. This year, another El Niño year, experts are saying that it could be a lot stronger than that of 2010.

Already the water level at Angat Dam is fast approaching the critical level of 180 masl, causing authorities to start cutting off irrigation to farms, much to the consternation of farmers. Water rationing has already commenced in Metro Manila, affecting the lives and businesses of many. It is the story of our lives. Too much vehicles on the road, too little water in dams.

Indeed, it has not been raining as much as we are used to around this time of year. It does rain, but only lasting a few minutes. Not enough to cause any significant rise in water levels. Experts are saying that the El Niño will even intensify in the coming months, up to the first quarter of next year. It is ironic that Magat Dam in Isabela had to release water as it was approaching spilling levels. If only there was a way to transfer all that water to Angat.

The government really has to look into tapping the oceans for Metro Manila's water supply. Desalination plants are common in places like the Middle East, giving them a good supply of fresh water. There are already desalination plants in some provinces, so why not Metro Manila? I know Cebu has a desalination plant, the largest bin the country right now.

What also needs to be addressed is the wasteful use of water. Many water fixtures such as faucets and bathroom tanks leak and are just left unattended.

Imagine the leaks going on for the whole day, the whole week, the whole month. That adds up to hundreds or even thousands of liters of wasted water. Everyone must pitch in - hotels, restaurants, buildings, government offices and agencies - in saving water by fixing leaks.

Metro Manila is already starting to experience low water pressure and even waterless hours during the day. The situation may even get worse if the rains do not come. Something nobody wants, as it is a much greater inconvenience to be waterless than powerless. Where are the rains when you need them? I never thought I would actually want a heavy rainy season to happen. I actually miss the sound of rain.   



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