Senator Imee Marcos has expressed concern that late-night water rationing could extend into daytime and that drought could occur in lowland farms, as dam water levels go down faster this summer.
Marcos said that the water level at Angat Dam – the main source of drinking water for Metro Manila and irrigation for farmers in Pampanga and Bulacan – could dip from the present 191 meters to the critical level of 180 meters before the next administration takes over.
“We have been complacent for four decades. Most of the old dams like Angat, Pantabangan, and Magat opened between 1967 and 1983 but have not been rehabilitated since then,” Marcos explained.
“Cloud-seeding and water rationing are just stopgap measures. It has not rained despite the forecast of a longer La Niña,” she added.
Amid budget constraints, Marcos said the next administration should ramp up investment in small water impounding systems that can harvest rainwater during the wet season.
“These will be earthen dams not more than 30 meters high and that can store up to 50 million cubic meters of water. Even upland farmers can benefit from them,” Marcos explained.
The country harvests less than 10% of rainwater, most of which runs off to the sea, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
“Rainwater harvesting facilities can also reduce flooding during the wet season, besides supporting farmland irrigation, fish farming, urban sanitation, and other non-potable uses like community greening or even washing your car,” Marcos pointed out.
Marcos has also sought to establish a Water Resources Management Authority via Senate Bill 1940 to consolidate the overlapping functions of more than 30 national government offices, local water boards, and privatized water utility operators.
“The challenges of a growing population and global climate change require the next administration to craft a clear strategy within its means to deal with the worsening water crisis,” Marcos said.(PR)