Using water responsibly is everybody’s business

E CARTOON MAY 9, 2024.jpg



Water interruption and low pressure that causes low water supply are the kind of news that gets many people upset and agitated, it reaches social and traditional media before it gets to local government officials. Especially when that happens these days, amid El Niño and the dangerous levels of high heat index, the complaints state the public’s standard on efficient water management.  And with good reason – water is a basic need and any disruption of supply is considered unacceptable by consumers who are mostly living in the cities.

But to those who have no access to potable water at all, having no running water in their homes or in a nearby community facility has been part of their lives. We do not hear about their situation because they are located in the small islands or in the upland areas of the country, too far for internet service, or even for electricity.

Yesterday, we learned that 40 million Filipinos have no access to clean and potable water which President Marcos stressed is “not acceptable.”

In a sectoral meeting at Malacañang, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Carlos Primo David said that the “40 million include those in the island barangays and those in the upland barangays.”  Most of the underserved communities are in many communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and in many small islands and upland communities.

Work on providing them with clean and potable water has started with the DENR’s plan to procure modular desalination machines for about 65 island barangays. Each desalination machine can serve up to 500 families.

The modular desalination machines system is now being used in 20 island barangays while a large-scale desalination plant is set to open in Cebu soon. It is expected that the procurement of the desalination machines will be completed soon with the President’s order to improve water resource management across the country. 

So how do these 40 million live without a formal water supply system?  DENR said “they still access water from springs, from creeks, some even rainwater, they rely on rainwater for drinking purposes.”

President Marcos stressed the importance of an integrated water resource master plan and the management of water resources during El Niño while mitigating floods during La Niña.

The country’s problems on water management are as constant as the seasons.  Floodwaters inundate the streets and farms during the rainy season and leave them dry when the summer months come.

In the same meeting, the President also instructed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to integrate water conservation into its flood control and management projects to ensure that floodwater can be used for irrigation, water supply, and power generation. The DPWH will be coordinating with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on its flood control projects that have to be integrated with water conservation facilities.

Perhaps the private sector can explore ways to provide potable water to areas not serviced by a water system. They can learn from a Rainwater Harvesting System Program in Tanay, Rizal implemented by an automotive company foundation in 2017 which was awarded as the most outstanding environment project for the operation of a system that processed rainwater into potable water.

Let us not forget that we are all affected by the way our water resources are managed. There is no action too small that can help conserve and properly manage this precious resource. A consumer must willingly take up this responsibility.