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Water shortage threatens Laguna and Cavite warns hydrologic study

Thursday, August 27, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]


AN international conservation group on Wednesday warned of a possible water shortage in Laguna and some municipalities of Cavite because of the watershed drying up due to climate change.

The World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature commissioned a hydrologic study, which revealed that only 12 percent of the Santa Rosa watershed’s rainwater is retained in underwater aquifers and the rest are being lost through run-off or evaporation.

The WWF said the amount is expected to decrease even more due to worsening impacts of climate change.

The group identified the municipalities affected as Santa Rosa, Cabuyao and Biñan for Laguna and Silang in Cavite.

“These municipalities comprise the Santa Rosa watershed—the primary source of domestic, industrial and agricultural water for a region recently touted as one of the fastest-growing urban centers outside Manila,” the group said in a statement.

To prevent water shortages, the study calls for an integrated watershed management solution that combines behavioral change on the part of water users, proper land use zoning, infrastructure modification particularly in designing existing drainage systems and policy reforms.

The WWF also said that because Silang, Santa Rosa, Cabuyao and Biñan are lying within the same watershed, all must share the problems and accountability to implement solutions.

The study is part of the technical assistance the World Wide Fund is providing to the local government units of the region—an ongoing initiative to regularly assemble all stakeholders and decide on the best courses of action.

The move aims to avoid droughts by ensuring that local water resources are properly managed, while ensuring that flood and extreme weather impacts are minimized. The system also highlights the adoption of new sustainable technologies and best practices from previously successful sites.

“The study was commissioned for decision makers to safeguard local water resources for their constituents. With rising demands and a booming population, underground aquifers will be stretched to the limit,” WWF Santa Rosa Project Manager Mark Ramirez said.

In 2006, Typhoon Milenyo bombard 19 provinces including Laguna with torrential rains and fierce winds, and low-lying regions were flooded.

Because the country is among the most vulnerable to climate impacts due to its low-lying archipelagos and the frequency of typhoons, World Wide Fund and the Coca-Cola Foundation have partnered to restore the natural productivity of Manila’s chief water reservoir—the Laguna Lake, the primary water source of an estimated 13.2 million Filipinos servicing six provinces and at least 60 municipalities, through the rehabilitation of the Santa Rosa river basin.

The Santa Rosa river basin is a crucial outflow system, which provides the lake and its constituent towns with clean fresh water.

The World Wide Fund is currently facilitating the drafting of the combined drainage and sewerage master plan for Santa Rosa, Biñan and Cabuyao—the first of its kind in the country that is expected to address the perennial flooding problem in downstream areas.

-- Ira Karen Apanay

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