Dep't of water proposal backed

Angat Dam
CRITICAL LEVEL This aerial photo taken on June 28, shows the low water level of Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan. Angat dam supplies Metro Manila and nearby provinces with water. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks. AFP/Noel CELIS

LEYTE Rep. Martin Romualdez has joined the call for the creation of a Department of Water.

Rep. Romualdez, one of the contenders for the speakership race, underscored the need to have a central authority on water resource management.

The main objective of the Department of Water is to address the problem of drinking water supply in Metro Manila and other urban areas.

In his proposal, the Department of Water should prioritize the creation of sustainable water supply from various sources including rainwater from local catchment or mini-dams.

“It is ironic that Metro Manila is submerged in flood waters even at the slightest downpour, yet households do not have a steady supply of water from their faucets,” Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), said.

“The mean annual rainfall of the Philippines varies from 965 to 4,064 millimeters annually. It is time that we study the possibility of rainwater harvesting as a source of drinking water for our cities and municipalities,” he added.

Meanwhile, the idea of constructing mini-dams was proposed to Romualdez by Bulacan Rep. Gavini “Apol” Pancho on the sidelines of Monday’s pre-SONA economic and infrastructure forum at the reception hall of the PICC Reception Hall in Pasay City.

“I fully subscribe to the proposal of Cong. Apol. Since the creation of Department of Water is a priority of President Duterte, I will ask other leaders of Congress to include the mini-dam concept in the legislative measure,” Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said.

Pancho said the construction of mini-dams will not only help address water shortage but also solve the flooding problem in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

“Just this Monday, the heavy downpour submerged several areas of Bulacan and parts of Metro Manila yet water level in Angat Dam rose only by a meter. If we can collect rainwater in small dams, then we may have a steady supply of water even for agricultural, commercial and industrial use,” Pancho explained.

The Bulacan solon noted that constructing mini-dams is not too costly for government since the project only involves stages of walling of existing infrastructure and leveling and deepening of riverbed.

Romualdez cited the experience of Singapore where rainwater is collected through a comprehensive network of drains, canals and rivers and channeled to the reservoirs before it is treated for drinking water.

This makes Singapore, he said, one of the few countries in the world to harvest urban storm water on a large scale for potable consumption.