THE current El Niño phenomenon has affected the agriculture sector in some parts of the country. And it’s not summer yet. It’s still more than two months to go before the start of the rainy season. This means things will get worst if we don’t save water.

At home, a large portion of the water we use is in the bathroom. You can save a lot of water by cutting down on your shower time and by putting a plastic bottle filled with sand or gravel in the toilet tank. The bottle will replace some of the water that your toilet uses each time it flushes.

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It’s strange that only a few months ago, we had record rainfall-and floods- in Rizal, Marikina and Pangasinan. Dams were overflowing then, but now they are drying up. Is this climate change? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is certain. Our environmental neglect is making natural calamities worst.

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Newly installed DENR Secretary Horacio C. Ramos calls on industries and other private firms, especially those that use substantial amount of water in their processes, to save water. He is urging companies to reuse their wastewater and tap it for other uses such as to water plants, cool boilers, flush urinals and toilet bowls, even to wash company vehicles.

There are a lot of companies that I know, especially those who have environmental management systems, who are already doing water conservation and re-use. Those who have wastewater treatment plants usually use their treated water for watering plants and cleaning.

There’s one company in Clark who has been harvesting rainwater for many years now. In fact, they have a big tank where the rainwater collected from roofs is stored and used in the factory. Recently, a call center company in Clark purchased several big water containers to also collect rainwater.

The only question now is — kailan darating ang ulan?

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It’s good that the government is taking the lead in water conservation. Malacañang has earlier directed all government agencies to cut down on their water consumption by 10% and observe water conservation measures to at least diminish the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon.

Secretary Ramos directed all offices of the DENR, including its regional offices, to practice water conservation measures in their respective areas, asking them to check and plug leaking pipes and faucets.

According to him, his agency’ implementation strategies to conserve water are now in full swing in the central office in Quezon City. Among these are water shutdown from 7:00pm up to 6:00am, repair of leaks, designation of a maintenance crew to open and close water valves on rotation basis; and use of its treated wastewater for gardening and watering purposes.