“Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) – “ The Rime of Ancient Mariner”
FIRST, AHEAD OF EVERY-THING ELSE- OUR WARM-EST GREETINGS TO ALL TO HAVE A JOYOUS AND MEAN-INGFUL CHRISTMAS, WHER-EVER E FIND OURSELVES! WORLD WAR III BE-CAUSE OF WATER
Enough has been written by eminent authorities about coming human disasters arising out of the lack of fresh water for human consumption and agriculture in the coming decades- such as Sir Nicholas Stern (U.K 2006), Dr. Rajendra Pachauri (U.N 2007), and Former Vice-President Algore (U.S 2007). Some environmentalists have also opine that world war III could start not because of International terrorism of territorial disputes, but because of the death of fresh, potable water due to global warming/ climate change.
The 20th century was dubbed the “ Century of Petroleum”as people everywhere (Rich or Poor), and Countries (Developing or Developing), are likely to ?ght and kill each other over water whether in a glass, in a pail, in a lake, or in a watershed.
And that would be the most deadly of all wars- when the con?icts at their most intense stage could put brother against brother, father against son, or husband against wife because of their thirst and the absolute lack of safe drinking water- and death all around would ensue. The resulting bloodshed and pandemic diseases could be much more devastating than what any 21st century nuclear war or natural catastrophe may cause.
In our archipelagic Philippines, such a doomsday scenarion indeed could happen more likely than not-unless continuing actions are taken by the authorities to control, prevent, and mitigate ?ood water from invading our homes and production areas- and on other occasions to augment, preserve, and deliver fresh, potable water to the people.
Starting today, our National leaders- those we elected to lead us as well as the “Presidentiables” and “Wannabes” for public of?ce come 2016- must now be made fully aware of the gravity of our serious nationwide water problems as a double-edged threat. It goes without saying that it is the sworn duty and continuing obligation of public of?cials when they enter into of?ce to serve the people ?rst before serving themsleves- in accordance with law and the constitution.
What greater needs of the people are there than those which would guarantee their survival and their enjoyment of good health, long life, and security than housing, electric power, transportation, food and water? WATER MOST OF ALL!
The most urgent issue now for the 15 million plus residents of Metro Manila, beyond the frenzy of election feve, is of?cial positive action to insure the adequan-cyof water supply in the summer months the planning for which must be commenced immediately-if not yet done. It must be reme-bered that any sizeable water back-up system could take 6-7 years to complete. Moreover, the phenomenon of inundation in the most likely areas must now be factored into all our National planning.
NOW IS THE TIME:NO
ALTERNATIVE TO WATER SCARCITY
It is now time for P.NOY, the cabinet and concerned agencies to harmonize inter-governmental differences and investor concerns over water issues, especially the calamities arising out of too much water-or lack of it- as brought forth in media. Any liter of fresh water that escapes or any day wasted in intramural bickering will certainly mean more agony on the part of many Filipinos later on.
OUR WATER RESOURCES
We should consider ourselves fortunate if we take into account that our country has adequate water resources to meet demand up to 2043. The surface run off alone (704 million cubic meters per year) – or that portion of total rainfall that ?ows into rivers- is more than suf?cient to meet expected requirements per year of 431 million cubic meters until 2043.
An estimated 5,000 cubic meters is available to every Filipino per year, well within DPWH estimates of Available surface runoff.
Despite this seeming abundance, many of our Kababayans do not have ready access to potable water. An estimated 30% of our population still do not enjoy the luxury of tap water, and of the 70% who have water connections, a number continue to complain that foul air or putrid water comes out of faucets. In addition, 51% of potential irrigable areas still need servicing, and 81% of our hydropower potential yet remains to be tapped .
Obviously, our water resources are not evenly distributed throughout the archipelago. To compound the uneven availability, a number of population centers outside Metro Manila are also saddled with severe potable water problems.
MANAGEMENT, NOT SUPPLY OF WATER
The basic objective is to have enough water where it is needed. Our problem is not of supply but management- the effecient adoption of conservation measures and effective delivery of water services.
This is where the concept of sustainable use becomes important for us all. Moreover, we have a growing market whose water requirements must be met anytime. Water used for agricultural purposes will continue to constitute the biggest share in total consumption, even as the share of water for industrial purposes and domestic uses continually increases.
The abundance of water resources should, therefore, not be a reasong for complacency. rather, this situation offers our leaders a challenge to ensure that this abundant resource will not reach its point of scarcity, and that us-ers will not complain about the quality of water being delivered.
Let us close 2015 with our everlasting gratitude to the good Lord for his bounty and wisdom- which we hope shall not be wasted by complacent and uncaring Filipinos.
By Fidel V. Ramos