Slowly drying up
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 15, 2019 - 12:00am

A picture does paint a thousand words. A much wider mud bank, with the shafts of the towers and the stilts of the walkways visible for all to see. Such is the image of a once-filled La Mesa Dam, now slowly drying up. At present, it has already reached the lowest recorded level of 68.75 meters in 1998. The level is now at 68.74, and is expected to go further down with the absence of rain. With the summer months just about to begin, Metro Manila is in for a water crisis.


Manila Water, the east side water concessionaire, has already released a water interruption schedule in all their service areas. It does not look good for many areas. Interruptions of six to 20 hours are expected. I can’t imagine ten minutes without water, let alone 20 hours. We just went back to 1998, where interruptions were also the talk of the day. Brisk sales of all kinds of containers are already happening. We really cannot do anything but endure, which may be until August if the rains do not come.

According to the MWSS, the current situation is the government's fault, but was quick to clarify that it was the fault of past administrations, and that this administration is already finding ways to address the shortage. No surprises there. Many have apparently been sending warnings about the water supply situation of Metro Manila for years. The Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon, which is believed to provide an additional source of water aside from Angat Dam, never took off. There are those who have actively opposed the project, citing environmental and disaster concerns as well as concerns for the indigenous people who have lived in the area for the longest time. At present, concerns about Chinese loans are adding to the opposition. While the Senate is also set to investigate the current water shortage, the situation is set to worsen before it gets better. We are literally in the hands of God.

I remember the quote “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The country is surrounded by vast oceans of seawater, which of course is not potable. Desalination is a process by which salt and other minerals are removed to produce fresh water. Such massive plants are in operation in the Middle East, where water is also scarce. But the energy requirements to desalinate water are enormous, which the country likewise does not have in abundance. There are also environmental concerns regarding the by-product of desalination, which is brine, an uber salty solution. But perhaps, they are worth consideration, if they can be put into operation during times like this. As for the Kaliwa Dam project, I see it taking off under this administration, especially because of the ten billion dollars in Chinese money behind it. This administration is not one to listen to the opposition anyway.

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