Drought to linger even after El Niño, water expert warns
An Australian expert on water management has warned that the the Philippines is at risk of massive water shortage even after the El Niño phenomenon passes because of inadequate policies to govern water use in the face of expanding roads, housing projects, malls and other infrastructure.
Prof. Stuart White, director of Institute for Sustainable Futures of the University of Technology Sydney said the Philippines needs to step up policy measures to mitigate the impact of drought as well as balance water supply and demand to meet infrastructure development.
Manage supply, demand
Cities and provinces will have to live with drought beyond El Niño because of the lack of a water demand management policy, he said at the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) forum on water demand management held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Mandaluyong.
“Increase in water use as a result of development will put extra pressure on water supply in the sewerage system,” White explained at the sidelines of the water forum.
Dr. White said Australia’s drought was similar to that of the Philippines. He shared that Canberra has adopted a 10-year plan to mitigate water shortage and the impact of drought. So far, it has resulted in 145 billion liters of water being saved every year, he said.
Former environment secretary and now USAID climate resiliency leader Elisea Gozun agreed the Philippines needed to amend the Water Code to manage unregulated ground water extraction.
She said the Water Code covers integrated water resource management such as surface, groundwater and rainwater.
Dr. White said the measures should include improvement in the manufacture of appliances; addressing water leakage such as physical leaks at home, offices and commercial establishments.
White also said the government’s water providers “need to make it expensive by paying [water] per cubic meter to encourage water conservation.”
He said Sao Paolo in Brazil and California in the US are also currently experiencing significant drought leading to water shortages due to the lack of policy planning.