Time for us to seriously conserve water
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - March 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Today is the proverbial “Ides of March” which was a dire warning given to Julius Caesar by a seer named Spurinna according to Roman biographer Suetonius, which was first mentioned in William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar.” Without this play, no one would have known what happened during the Ides of March.

 

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The editorial of The Philippine STAR yesterday said it clearly: “Not a drop to drink.” It further read: “El Niño is officially not yet upon us. Yet water is now being rationed in several areas in Metro Manila. Some schools had to suspend classes because there was no running water in the lavatories, raising concerns about sanitation and children’s health. The Red Cross also had to assist several hospitals that ran out of water.

“Outside the cities, farmlands are so dry they are cracking up. Droughts can also affect electricity supply in areas dependent on hydropower. Rice farmers, already suffering from reduced earnings with the arrival of a flood of imported rice, face bleaker months. Last Tuesday, a state of calamity was declared in Zamboanga Sibugay because of the drought.

“Water is the most basic necessity for survival. Human beings and animals can survive without food for a limited period, but not without water. Whether it’s El Niño or La Niña hitting the country, providing sufficient supply of safe water must always be a priority.”

While Metro Manila is already reeling from a serious lack of water especially when you look at the photographs of their water reservoirs which have gone down to extreme lows, you cannot even conserve water, simply because there is no water from the faucet. It is a fact that many weather forecasters have warned of a stronger El Niño this year. But the dry season is just starting. Indeed, last Sunday when we took a long motorcycle ride to Santander, it was already as hot as summertime and I got a bit of a sunburn.

So here in Cebu, we should already prepare ourselves for a long drought. We already saw the photographs of the only reservoir in Cebu City, the Buhisan Dam and water supply is down by nearly 50%. But most of the water distributed by the Metro Cebu Water District is taken from underground water sources. As my good friend, Antonio Tompar of Mactan Rock suggested, it is high time for us to get our water supply through the sea through reverse osmosis. While it is a bit expensive, this technology is already reliable.

Meanwhile, we are still in the middle of March and it used to be that March produced high winds, but this March was not really a windy month. It is also Fire Prevention Month, but thankfully now that water is scarce we are not having serious fire problems. So perhaps a water rationing system should already be implemented, even if we still have a water supply, just to ensure our people that for as long as we are not having the usual rainfall, we should start conserving water.

In the meantime, with most of our rivers dried out, it is high time for them to be cleaned. Mud and silt should be removed as they are the principal cause of the high levels of coliform, which will drain into the sea if we do not remove them immediately. However, mind you, I am totally against volunteers who clean up these rivers until and unless Cebu City provides septic tanks to the houses along the river banks. CENRO’s Nida Cabrera says that she will spend P12 million to purchase septic tanks for the use of households. If you ask me, this figure is too miniscule to ensure the right cleanup of our riverbeds.

At this point, let me remind CENRO that it must come up with a five-year master plan on how to permanently solve our problems, which in my book should begin with the listing of all the houses along the riverbanks and permanently moving their residents into Gawad Kalinga housing areas and, more importantly, making sure that no other illegal settlers would move into places already cleared of houses. I hope CENRO would listen to our suggestions. Now is the time for conserving our precious water.

vsbobita@mozcom.com

WATER SHORTAGE
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