Rain-saving  proposals must  be pursued

Published July 7, 2019, 12:15 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

E CARTOON Feb 03, 2019Finally  the  rainy season has begun. The water-bearing “habagat” winds from the southwest  started  flowing in strength last Tuesday, June 30, ending the long wait  for the start of the season.

Weeks before the rains, household water rationing had begun in many parts of Metro Manila as the water level  at  Angat Dam in Bulacan, the city’s principal source of water supply, dipped below the  160-meter critical level. After Tuesday’s rains,  the  water level rose to 160.34 meters.

Water  rationing  to Metro Manila households should now  end. But the allocation of irrigation water from  Angat  Dam to rice fields in Bulacan  and  Pampanga  will have to wait until the dam’s water level reaches 180 meters.

Tuesday’s rains, while raising  Angat  Dam’s water level, also  caused flooding in many towns in Central Luzon. This is the negative side of the start of the rainy season,  but  it  is  a minor concern when considered against the relief  brought about by the end of household water rationing.

The  unusually  dry weather in the country early this year  revived calls for measures to save the rainwater  that  now causes  flooding in lowland areas  and then flows on  to the seas around our islands. It is time we took concrete steps to save all this rainwater that is actually one of our precious natural resources.

The  proposals  include the construction of weirs or mini-dams around Metro Manila, aside from tapping the big Wawa Dam in  the Sierra Madre  mountains. There  are many other water sources that could be tapped, including Laguna Lake and  Kaliwa Dam in Quezon Province. There is a bill in Congress that would require project developers to set  aside  part of the  project area to set up a rainwater harvesting facility.   And  there is a proposal to create a central water authority – a Department of  Water – that would  consolidate all these various proposals and see to their implementation.

Many of these proposals are old ones, but once the rains begin falling, they  tend to be forgotten and set aside. Our specially difficult summer just past, intensified  by  the El Nino hot-weather phenomenon  in the Pacific, should move our officials to act decisively on these proposals.

The  rain we are now having are truly showers of blessing  that we welcome. Now we must go further and save them for the times of need that will surely come in our annual  seasonal  changes  of  heat and cold,  drought and flooding.