Press Release
January 21, 2010

Gear up for possible water crisis -- Loren

After the Manila Water Co. warned recently that water levels have dropped significantly in the Angat Dam with the El Nino phenomenon showing early signs, Senator Loren Legarda called on the DENR and the DA to intensify efforts for the rehabilitation, development and protection of watersheds.

"Government must now pursue urgent measures, including comprehensive watershed management, enhancement of irrigation efficiency, introduction of low water use crops and efficient farming practices, recycling of water and improvement of monitoring and forecasting systems for floods and droughts," she said.

The country has 412 principal river basins in 119 proclaimed watersheds; a total of 99 lakes, 16 of which have an area more than 400 hectares, and groundwater reservoirs that cover 50,000 square kilometers and have a storage capacity of 251,100 million cubic meters.

But this abundance of water resources masks a potential water crisis. Loren said. Today, the Philippines ranks among the lowest in terms of freshwater availability per capita at 1,907 cubic meters, compared with the average of 7,045 cubic meters worldwide and 3,668 cubic meters in Asia. Four regions--Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Southern Tagalog and Central Visayas face the dire prospect of decreasing water quality and quantity. The Angat Dam is the sole source of Metro Manila's water supply.

"The country may be blessed with abundant water at this time, but we face an acute water crisis in the near future if we do not conserve this vital resource," said Legarda.

Loren pointed out: "Water stress, amplified by climate change, will create a growing security challenge. The changing climate which results to longer droughts will adversely affect the country's watersheds and the population of around 24 million, the forests and their biodiversity, as well as 1.5 million of agricultural lands dependent on these areas for irrigation water. We must avert any possible water crisis, which can lead to a food and health crisis if left unchecked."

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