Legarda: No Time, Water To Waste as PHL Expects El Niño

May 3, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today said that there is no time to waste in getting ready for the El Niño phenomenon that is expected to hit the country in June, adding that this means Filipinos should start conserving water.


According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the El Niño may trigger drought and stronger storms.


“As the DOST has warned of an impending El Niño, we expect that government agencies have already set out programs to address the effects of this phenomenon. Foremost of our concerns is food security because prolonged drought would drastically cut down the production of local crops like rice, corn, sugar cane, vegetables and other agricultural products. It can also cause a decrease in fisheries yield,” said Legarda.


“Meanwhile, communities should also start water conservation programs. Households should avoid excessive water use and practice reusing water,” she added.


The Senator also urged local government units (LGUs) to put up rainwater harvesting facilities in all barangays as part of water conservation program. Such system would help address the country’s water shortage problem, particularly during the dry season, while making use of the excess water from rainfall.


“We are already experiencing hot temperatures, but rain showers occur every now and then. Manila was flooded yesterday due to heavy rain. A rainwater catchment system could have avoided or decreased the volume of flood,” she explained.


Legarda said that the creation of rainwater catchment basins is mandated by Republic Act 6716, a law enacted in 1989 that requires the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the country.


“These catchment systems can be built using low-cost local materials. But while the system is not yet in place, the people can use drums to store rainwater especially in areas being frequented by rains. We just have to make sure that water is stored properly so it would not become a breeding place for mosquitoes,” she said.


Legarda also cited the proposal of environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. to create rainwater catchment ponds. Vacant land in low-lying areas can be excavated and turned into a pond or lake so that excess water from heavy rains or storms have a place to go. The proposal also includes growing fish to prevent the pond from becoming a breeding ground of mosquitoes and planting vegetables like kangkong and fruit-bearing trees like banana in the area surrounding the pond.


“We have to implement programs such as these water catchment basins that bring multiple benefits of water conservation, flood prevention and food production. Moreover, as we expect stronger storms due to El Niño, we have to strengthen disaster prevention programs and ensure that our early warning systems are in place and effective,” Legarda concluded.