By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Several provinces may experience drought in the next three months as rainfall in the country continues to significantly drop due to the weak El Niño.
El Niño is characterized by unusually warm ocean waters in the tropical Pacific, causing drought in most parts of the Philippines.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said nine provinces may experience drought and 41 provinces may experience dry spell by the end of March.
Dry spell is described by PAGASA as three consecutive months of below normal (21 to 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions or two consecutive months of way below normal (more than 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions.
The 41 provinces (26 in Luzon, 10 in Visayas and five in Mindanao) that will likely be affected by dry spell are Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Metro Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon.
Meanwhile, drought, which is a more severe dry condition, is defined as three consecutive months of way below normal (60 percent reduction from average) or five consecutive months of below normal (21 to 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall condition.
Areas (five in Luzon and four in Mindanao) that may be affected by drought by the end of March are Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao, and Sulu.
Likewise, 22 areas (seven in Luzon, six in Visayas, and nine in Mindanao) may observe dry condition or two consecutive months of below normal (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions. These are Ifugao, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bulacan, Aurora, Rizal, Guimaras, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Southern Leyte, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur.
By end of April, more provinces are expected to experience dry spell and drought conditions.
PAGASA said 42 provinces (21 in Luzon, 14 in Visayas, and seven in Mindanao) may experience dry spell.
These include Ifugao, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Aurora, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Marinduque, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Sorsogon, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Siquijor, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar, Southern Leyte, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Dinagat Islands, and Surigao del Norte.
Meanwhile, 17 provinces in Luzon, one in Visayas, and four in Mindanao may experience drought.
These are Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Metro Manila, Cavite, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Catanduanes, Aklan, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi.
By end of May, 33 areas may experience drought—21 in Luzon, 10 in Visayas, and 2 in Mindanao.
These are Pangasinan, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Metro Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Misamis Occidental, and Dinagat Islands.
Water conservation tips
The previous El Niño occurrence in 2015-2016 was among the strongest events alongside the big El Niño episodes in 1972-1973, 1982-1983, and 1997-1998.
The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) gave tips on how to preserve water.
• turn the faucet off firmly to prevent leakage and install low volume/high pressure nozzles or flow constrictors that help reduce water usage by up to 50 percent
• use water dipper (tabo) and pail instead of the shower, while taking a bath
• Use a glass of water in brushing your teeth instead of letting the water flow
• buy new, water-efficient toilet bowls that consume only 2.6 to 4 liters of water for every flush. Old models use up to 14 liters of water per flush
• discard leftover food before washing dishes and use a basin to save water and dishwashing soap
• wash all clothes at once and do not allow water in the wash basin to overflow
• re-use water from laundry to flush the toilet, clean a car, or water garden plants
• use a pail and towel in washing your car instead of a water hose
• water plants before sunrise or after sunset to prevent water loss due to vaporization, and collect rainwater with pails and basins, and store it for future use
• in restaurants and hotels, serve water to guests upon request
• eatery owners can use leftover drinking water to water the plants
• switch off water valve in buildings that do not operate at night. Turn off the gate valve in the evening, and turn it on again the next day
• Report broken pipelines and illegal water connections