When the rains started falling in June, Metro Manila residents, especially those living in the eastern sector which suffered through a water shortage in March, heaved a sigh of relief. We are now in the “ber” months, when life seems at its best in our island country – the weather getting cooler, the harvests coming in, the holiday spirit rising each day towards the Christmas season in December.
Last week, city residents were told by the two water concessionaires – Maynilad and Manila Water – of possible water rationing because of falling water levels at Angat and Ipo dams. It is not a water crisis like we had in the summer months. “We just have to proactively warn our customers about the possibility of our having to implement rotational service interruptions, given the scant rains that have been falling, a Maynilad spokesman said.
Then last Tuesday, Maynilad and Manila Water announced they will have to implement rotational water service interruptions starting today, which may last until next year, due to the declining water level at the dams. The water allocation for irrigation had been reduced earlier.
Population increase is certainly a factor. There simply are so many more millions of people now living in Metro Manila, all needing water now supplied by Angat and Ipo, with some from Laguna de Bay. During the recent hot months, there was talk of developing new water sources, including a proposed Kaliwa Dam and renewed use of the old Wawa Dam. But there is opposition to the building of the Kaliwa Dam in Quezon Province by the indigenous people in the area who stand to lose their present homes and fields once the dam floods their lands.
There is also the factor of climate change. We did not have much of a rainy season from the “habagat” southwest monsoon this year. And we have not had the usual series of storms and typhoons dumping rains on our islands on their way to the Asian mainland. They have been curving away instead, the last one – “Hagibis” – hitting Japan instead.
Several measures to improve our water supply have been proposed and approved but it will take sometime to carry them out. These include requiring new development projects to include provisions for saving rain water to augment the supply from the Metro Manila Water District and the two private water concessionaires.
In recent months, we have had a host of problems impacting the lives of common ordinary folk – the high market prices in 2018, the water shortage early this year, the dengue, measles, and polio outbreaks that continue in parts of the country, and now another impending water shortage.
As in all our previous shortages, we will survive this one as our people are resilient and we have resources we can turn to. But this impending water shortage at a time when there should no longer be one should move the officials concerned to step up their plans for dams, weirs, and other water-saving projects. With our abundant rains, we really should have no problem. We simply have to save it for the now inevitable days of shortage for our fast-growing population.