Every drop counts: save, conserve
It hit without warning, leaving tens of thousands of homes reeling from a water crisis that gripped the metro.
Earlier this month, a large part of the East Zone, or those areas under the Manila Water Co. Inc. concession, lost water and had to endure severe water shortages for weeks. The reason, according to the Ayala-led water concessionaire, can be partly attributed to the critically low water levels at La Mesa Dam, where Manila Water draws some 150 million liters a day. This volume was crucial to augment the supply coming primarily from the Angat Dam.
Tankers were then deployed, Manila Water began a rationing system, and help came from all directions—from local governments, state agencies, and even West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services. Manila Water even offered financial relief, which some of its customers found to be not enough to offset the expenses they incurred during the shortage.
“To help ease the inconvenience in some way, Manila Water has announced … a voluntary waiver of the minimum charge in March for all its East Zone customers. And a full bill waiver for March for those living in severely affected barangays. The waiver will be reflected in the April bill,” said brothers Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Fernando Zobel de Ayala in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
“Please be assured that Manila Water is exploring all possible options to bring back services to the high levels that we are all accustomed to. As of March 25th, our eight- to 12-hour water availability at ground floor level has reached 97 percent. We continue to appeal for everyone’s patience as our teams at Manila Water are working hard and overtime to immediately and comprehensively remedy the situation,” they further said.
Although water supply in the East Zone had significantly improved over the past several days, the crisis raised anew questions about the sustainability of water sources, prompting many to look at possible measures to contribute to alleviating the said shortage.
Some of the country’s biggest property developers such as Rockwell Land and Sta. Lucia Land were quick to their feet, deploying conservations measures in their respective projects.
According to Rockwell Land estate manager JR Escabusa, they immediately provided information to their residents regarding ways to conserve water. The upscale developer also reduced the water pressure across their projects and is currently using recycled water for landscape.
Similarly, Sta. Lucia Land released a letter to its residents about ways to conserve water and had also begun using recycled water for landscape areas.
“The current water shortage is a wake-up call for everyone that by now should have alerted us to the reality that amid the steadily growing prosperity in our society, there is a finiteness to the essential things that support life,” explained Joel Luna, principal of Joel Luna Planning and Design (JLPD).
Luna, a registered architect, environmental planner and a certified Berde professional with over 30 years of experience, added that what is critical is for everyone to “develop a mindset of conservation where waste is avoided and limited resource is conserved.”
Luna, who has expertise in the field of mixed use development planning and township development planning, offers several ways on how developers can better design their projects to include sustainability measures that will enable them to better conserve water.
1 Land use planning
It starts with land use—more specifically, land use planning that is guided by a set of long-term, strategic sustainability goals that underpin the course of development over time.
“When I was still in Ayala Land and we were planning Nuvali in the early ’90s, we backed our development aspirations with estimated target populations in the future city we were planning. We asked questions such as how much garbage the full-build out population will generate and how will we dispose of it… what is the capacity of the current ground water source to supply the future population and what is the long-term solution to supply water,” Luna explained.
2 Design with nature
This planning concept was pioneered by Ian McHarg where the extent of the built-environment is determined by the site’s physiography, climate, terrain, vegetation, natural resources and carrying capacity, avoiding a heavy-handed approach to development driven mainly by economic opportunism.
3 Provide utility systems
These should allow for the recycling of waste water (treatment plants, grey water lines ir double piping, storm water detention facilities).
4 Plan for resiliency
One can do this by anticipating possible adverse scenarios and addressing these by providing redundancy in utility systems such as pumps, tanks, cisterns and transmission lines.
5 Use less pavement and have more permeable surfaces
These will allow rain water to seep through the soil and therefore recharge acquifers (ground water).
6 Look beyond property lines
All developments will have an impact on their surrounding areas. One should recognize the larger implications of developments on traffic, resource depletion, flood risk, among others. Being aware of the potential impacts of any development on its larger setting over the long term will help in creating more responsible developments.
7 Plant trees
Use endemic trees and plants, particularly the drought-tolerant species that are adapted to our climate and are more tolerant of fluctuations in our weather.
Even homeowners, according to Luna, can turn their house into a more sustainability dwelling. There are many ways, he added, through which each household can contribute to alleviating the current water crisis, foremost of which is in terms of curbing consumption.
Conserve water by taking shorter showers or use pail.
Use toilet and kitchen fixtures that use less water (aerated faucets, low-flow fixtures).
Avoid leaving the tap on when washing the car, washing dishes, doing laundry, bathing pets, or brushing your teeth.
Support buildings that have waterless fixtures.
Maintain toilet and kitchen fixtures and check plumbing to ensure there are no leaks.
Forego the lawn. Watering grass consumes a lot of water. Or at the very least, avoid Bermuda grass which requires more watering. Use native carabao grass instead for your garden.
Report water leaks in your community when you spot them.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.