It has begun to rain every day in many parts of the country but it isn’t yet the rainy season, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. The rains are the result of warm moist air rising in the air where it condenses and then falls back to earth, mosly in the afternoon and evening.
The real rainy season begins when warm winds — the “habagat” — bearing water vapor evaporating from the equatorial waters start blowing in from the southwest. As the winds reach the western islands of our country, they rise to cooler air levels where the water vapor condenses into rain. These truly heavy rains start late in May or early in June.
We thus have two to three more weeks of the present hot season. Then the heavy rains begin and we face our next problem—floods and landslides.
Early this year, around March, some officials had already been thinking ahead of the coming summer months when our dams dry up for lack of rains and faucets dry up in Metro Manila households .
“We utterly lack an apex body, a Department of Water, to ensure water supply and distribution, an indispensable vital need,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. There are now about 30 water agencies involved in the water sector, but each one works without coordination with the others.
In 2016, Pernia said, there was a proposal for a Water Resources Department or Water Resources Authority to unify various efforts to face the country’s water problem. A 2015 survey showed that only 55.3 percent of the country’s population was served by community-level piped systems. For the rest, 35.4 percent got their water from wells, 6.8 percent from springs, rivers, and lakes, and 2.5 percent from water peddlers and other sources.
Even the well organized water systems, such as that of Metro Manila with its two concessionaires, have annual problems of supply. Metro Manila’s East concessioner, Manila Water, was unable to supply water to thousands of households some weeks ago, forcing President Duterte himself to step in.
Various proposals to save the country’s abundant rainwater during the rainy season were made, including one compelling land developers to set aside part of their project to store rainwater for use in times of shortage.
But all these are separate proposals, plans, and initiatives, pursued in times of need, but set aside when the urgency passes. We need consistency, coordination, and persistence in this effort. This could be provided by the proposed Water Resoures Authority or Water Resources Department which, Secretary Pernia said, had been proposed as early as 2016.