One thing the gov’t has not done, nature can only offer miniscule assistance

Published July 19, 2019, 12:04 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Elinando B. Cinco
Elinando B. Cinco

By now many are well aware of what the administration has miserably failed to do,but Mother Nature is coming in as a Johnny-come-lately savior.

Because of inadequacies caused by rainless summer months, these crucial necessities came out in the open.

As people now see it, the government’s present failures are: One, insufficient irrigation systems in known rice producing provinces; and two, no new sources of potable water specifically for Metro Manila.

Apparently, the long drought was one of the causes cited by resigned DA Secretary Manny why the country has not achieved self-sufficiency in rice. The same reason given by administrations before him.

Previously resorted to by past administr

ations was cloud-seeding. The practice of inducing rain by spreading dry ice on thick clouds over rice granaries.

Done airborne by specially commissioned private small aircraft firms, the method is very expensive, costing the government thousands of pesos per minute.

This time of year, everybody looks up to the sky for the “agua libre” (free water) from  Mother Nature, the start of the rainy season. It does not cost us a peso. But rains have become  inconsistent and finicky.

If it will help, all we have to do is, figuratively, start beating our “war drums” (as resorted to by chosen rainmakers of American Indian tribes of the Old West), and, presto, volumes of rainwater would fall and come cascading in.

Only this time, the appropriate “war drums” are water receptacle containers to stock the precious liquid induring dry months.

As everyone knows, the habagat  rains last only up to October. And November is the  start of the rice-planting season. By March, the water dikes around rice fields will dry up, and the paddies will cake. Another five months of dry spell, a season of frustration.

It is a scenario that farmers and traders dread much, just thinking about it.

Of course, it would be a different situation if the government had built sufficient irrigation systems all over the rice-producing provinces of the land.

Next year, I have my doubts if people will still have the energy and strength to beat their “war drums” once more.

Meanwhile, as Latinos would say, “Vamos a cambiar la vista.” Set our sights on Metro Manila and its thirsty and almost dehydrated 15 million customers of two water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water.

These paying customers are seething in anger. They say their problem will never be solved, even if water from heaven will give them a cool and refreshing solace this month, the start of typhoons and torrential rains.

They are in despair of solutions coming from the government. But why?

Because the water resource board of the government declares the ordinary rains that come around these months are miniscule. Not enough to replenish the receding water reserve  of dams that supply the needs of the metropolitan residents and nearby towns.

If rain water is to be expected to tide over the dams of their sinking water level (they call it.”critical”), vanish your expectation. Officials said it would take the enormous water expelled from the skies by the likes of “Ondoy” in 2009 to even half-fill the reservoirs.

Another glaring and depressing fact: La Mesa Dam, Angat Dam, and other smaller reservoirs that fill in water needs of the present 15 million metropolitan residents,as well as adjoining towns, were made when there were only 8 million customers, according to published figures.

Since then, the government has not built any new water reservoir for the metropolis. And it will take, at least, four years to build one (compared to three years for an  electricity energy generation company).

So, whoever is the president of the country in 2022, he will be pestered by the same water supply problems.