Sunday, July 25, 2010
Water Shortage in Metro Manila
Recently, for the past few weeks, major parts of Metro Manila have been experiencing water shortage. Most of the Maynilad water concessionaire's clients are affected since Maynilad's water source is Angat Dam. Manila Water, another water concessionaire, which serves our district here in Quezon City has been consistent in their water supply since they get water from the nearby La Mesa Dam. Maynilad customers which serves several areas in Manila, Caloocan, Novaliches and other heavily populated areas are not that lucky. They started experiencing water shortage, getting just a few hours of water supply in a day for a month now and just last week, since Angat Dam reached its all time lowest water level, Maynilad customers started getting no water supply for more than 24 hours. They have been lucky though, for the past 2 days when Metro Manila experienced occasional rains, they got water supply for a few hours.
Since Metro Manila residents are so dependent on Angat Dam for their water supply, i think its time for the new government to start thinking of new ways to supply water to the millions of residents of the metropolis. Angat Dam, a freshwater source is also the main source of water supply for rice field in central Luzon which supplies rice and other basic food commodities for Metro Manila. A lot of talk has been circulating for the construction of another dam, Laiban Dam which is located at Rizal province. Constructing a dam has major implications on the environment and environmental groups are against it since they believe it is not a long term solution to the water crisis. Besides, getting fresh water as another source is not really a solution since we will still be very dependent on rain to provide water. The El Nino phenomenon has intensified the effects of climate change and we started experiencing hotter summers and destructive typhoons. Hotter summers dry up our water supply and destructive typhoons fill up dams very quickly which was the reason why dams released water during the Ondoy typhoon which was one of the causes why major areas of Luzon were flooded.
The government has been vocal about tapping the Laguna de Bay as an alternative water source for Metro Manila. This freshwater source is located south of Metro Manila which is currently famous as a site for fish pens and other source of livelihood for fishermen. Once Laguna de Bay is tapped as a water source for Metro Manila residents, there is also a possibility that it may soon dry up, just like Angat Dam and hundreds of livelihood will be affected by this. I think its time for the national government to consider constructing a desalination plant or at least a facility which gets water from the sea and sends it to consumers as an alternative water supply besides drinking. A lot of water is wasted in buildings and commercial establishments which uses fresh water for toilets and urinal use. Saltwater can be an alternative and you can just imagine how many gallons of water we can save for drinking and cooking purposes. We can even use salt water for cleaning purposes for floors and walls which also consumes a lot of water supposedly saved for drinking purposes.
Can the Philippine government afford a desalination plant? It is very expensive and uses a lot of energy to operate but we have to think of it as a long term solution. Besides, we really can not afford to depend on rainwater to provide water, a basic need for humans. Water conservation is still a priority for every household, but the government should really think ahead. Water shortage will continue to be a problem for years to come because we cannot stop the increase of our population which in turn increases the demand for water.