By Hannah Torregoza
As Metro Manila residents struggle with the water crisis, reelectionist Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Wednesday urged authorities to enforce the 30-year old law mandating the collection of rainwater in all barangays to prevent flooding and ensure a continuous provision of clean water during the dry season.
Angara is referring to Republic Act 6716, also known as the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Act of 1989, which mandates the establishment of a rainwater harvesting system in all villages nationwide.
The senator said rainwater harvesting offers a practical and immediate solution to the country’s water supply problem.
“As early as 1989, we already have this law intended to help alleviate water scarcity and drought down to barangay level, and yet no one seems to be implementing it,” Angara said in a statement.
“While we all wait for the construction of new dams, which may take years to complete, LGUs (local government units) should practice rainwater harvesting because it is a practical solution that will have direct impact on the grassroots,” stressed Angara, chair of the Senate committee on local government.
The lawmaker said rainwater harvesting is already being done in India, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, and has proven quite effective.
“Why shouldn’t we implement the same, especially since we get an abundance of rain?” he pointed out.
The law provides for the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the Philippines.
It also calls for the creation of a waterworks and sanitation association in every barangay to operate and maintain a rainwater collection facility, which components include catchment, treatment and distribution.
Under the law, rainwater collection is done in rooftops, then purified in a central treatment system to be pumped, finally, to various water lines.
In 2012, Angara said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memorandum to all LGUs, DILG regional directors and field officers requiring them to promote the construction of rainwater collectors in barangays to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.
He also noted that in 2017, the agency released another memorandum circular outlining the policies and guidelines for the construction of rainwater collectors.
The circular mandates all government public infrastructures to construct rainwater collection systems (RWCS) and use collected rainwater for non-potable uses.
The same circular also advises LGUs to seek the assistance of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) district offices in the construction of RWCS, following the agency’s prototype designs.