Water shortage is an issue that many communities in the Philippines have to deal with on a regular basis. Urban and rural communities alike have to contend with the consequences of intermittent and inadequate water supply, especially during the years when the country is affected by the El Niño phenomenon. The lack of water can lead to the inability of individuals to carry out standard hygiene practices, which can then contribute to the rapid spread of communicable diseases. The inclusion of acute watery diarrhea to the list of leading causes of deaths in the Philippines in as late as 2016 demonstrates this point. In addition, water shortages can also have devastating impacts on activities that fuel economic growth.
Given the frequent occurrence of water shortages, it’s high time for communities to make a move and actively prepare for this phenomenon. A community that is ready for water shortages has a better chance of faring well despite prolonged periods of inadequate or poor water supply. Here are some of the approaches that a community can adopt to mitigate the impact of water shortages.
Coordinate closely with the community’s water service providers.
In times of water scarcity, it’s important to remember that the community is on the same side with its water service provider. More often than not, any involved water infrastructure company in the Philippines shares the same goal with the community it serves. That means that an area’s water provider also aims to ensure that quality water is accessible to the greater public and the industries that need it. Working closely with their service provider will give the community a direct line to experts who can provide reliable data and offer guidance on how to effectively maximize the local water supply. The community’s leadership, in turn, can cascade these ideas to the individual households in the affected areas. This will help prevent the spread of misinformation and unwarranted panic in the location when there’s a water crisis.
Improve reception to sustainable water management practices.
Preparing for water shortages often means introducing a lot of changes in the community. A farming community, for instance, may be encouraged to plant more drought-tolerant crops and invest in more efficient irrigation systems. People in urban areas, on the other hand, may be prompted to address leaky pipes and fixtures to save water. These initiatives require effort, and people may not readily or willingly participate in these endeavors. It’s incumbent upon the community to create an atmosphere that effectively reinforces these practical efforts. The members of the farming community, for example, can spread the word about financial assistance programs that can help them shift to less water-hungry crops in times of water crises. People living in cities, on the other hand, can be more vocal in their support of sustainable water management policies and initiatives. Talking about their commitment and efforts to save water in their households can help keep communities informed of the water shortage issue and encourage others to also do their share.
Promote the use of reclaimed water resources.
Storing and utilizing reclaimed water sources like rain and wastewater can help communities improve their resilience to droughts and prolonged periods of poor water quality. These reclaimed water resources can be used for activities that don’t require the use of potable water. For example, the water used to wash rice and vegetables can be collected and used to water plants, while the water used to wash clothes can be used again to flush the toilet. By using reclaimed water for less delicate tasks, the community can save potable water for drinking, cooking, and other activities that require a high level of water cleanliness. It’s worth noting that some bulk water infrastructure projects like Apo Agua Infrastructura in Davao City have their own wastewater treatment plants. Such facilities enable water service providers to reclaim water on a large scale and secure adequate supplies for the communities they serve even during the dry season.
Support community efforts to control pollution in the area.
Communities that take good care of their waterways and sewage systems are doing their share in preserving the integrity of their water supply. Disposing of trash, agricultural wastewater, and effluents properly prevents these pollutants from finding their way into freshwater systems and groundwater sources. In some places, communities even step up by adopting waterways and keeping them clean. This is the case in the LIMA Estate in Batangas with its Adopt-an-Estero program. The initiative supports community members who work together to improve the water quality in the creeks and streams in their location. This effort helps the community prevent flooding and preserves the freshwater sources in their area for future use.
It takes a village to effectively prepare for imminent water shortages and ensure that every member of the community can have access to quality water resources. With the combined efforts of the public, the water infrastructure providers, and the government, it’s possible to keep the negative effects of water shortages to a minimum.
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