Peña: Water crisis

I'VE been following with keen interest the current water crisis in Barangay Margot and Barangay Sapang Bato in Angeles City. The issue has landed into the front pages of several issues of this paper and even led to the declaration of a state of calamity in the two villages by the Angeles City Council.

The Angeles City Water District (ACWD) has committed to solve the water crisis and is said to be doing its best to address it. To provide temporary relief, ACWD deployed water trucks to supply the affected residents. The mid-term solution is to drill deep wells and put up pumping stations. This will take at least three to four months.

The long-term solution, however, may not be to drill more wells. The groundwater supply is limited. Many years ago, Clark Development Corporation conducted a water study that includes recharge and extraction rate. The study, I believe, is now the basis for approving and regulating water-hungry industries inside the zone.

Meanwhile, the private sector is lending a hand. Last March 1, during the Regional Climate Change Summit in Clark, I was approached by former city councilor and environmentalist Louie Reyes. He discussed a plan to pipe water from a source they discovered, which is about two kilometers away from the village. They will use a pump that does not need any electricity to operate. The cost of the system will be shouldered by donations from private individuals.

It's not only in Angeles City where there's an ongoing water crisis. Cape Town, South Africa's second largest metropolis, is also suffering from severe water shortage. In fact, water will stop flowing when the so called "Day Zero" comes, the day when most of the city's faucets are predicted to run dry. Rainfall was well below average for three years in a row leading to this water shortage.

According to the official document released by Cape Town and updated last February 22, Day Zero is projected to happen on July 9, 2018. It will, however, depend on many changing factors such as reduction in daily water usage. The more water saved, the further "Day Zero" will move. "Day Zero" will take effect when their dam levels are at 13.5%. The dams are recharged by rain falling in their catchment areas during the cooler winter months of May to August. The water levels decline during the dry summer months of December to February.

When "Day Zero" comes, the City will provide water to residents through water collection points. They will supply 25 liters per person per day in line with the World Health Organization's recommendation. (I wonder if this is the same volume being given by ACWD to the affected residents of Margot and Sapang Bato).

Their agricultural sector was also affected. Currently, their agriculture sector is drawing about 30% of the water in the supply scheme. This should fall to approximately 15% in March and 10% in April. Business and organizations are required to reduce their water use by 45% compared with the corresponding period in 2015 (pre-drought). Their target is to get consumption down to 450 million liters per day to prevent the remaining water supplies from running out before the arrival of winter rains.

Oftentimes, we take water for granted as if we have infinite supply. It is when crisis happens that we appreciate the value of water. Let us conserve water now and let us not wait for the situation in Cape Town to happen here.
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