With the El Niño phenomenon expected to intensify in the coming months, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated its appeal for the public to help in water conservation efforts even as supply remained relatively stable for now.
“Those of us enjoying enough water supply now should be more conscious about our usage, so that we do not put undue pressure on our water sources,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said over the weekend.
“We do not want to deplete our water supply before El Niño eases up,” Paje added, noting that several parts of the country continue to experience water shortage despite localized rainfalls.
The DENR chief made the appeal over reports of water shortage, particularly in agricultural areas.
The shortage has led to water rationing, cloud seeding and declaration of state of calamity in some areas in Mindanao.
Weather bureau Pagasa earlier said the country is likely to continue experiencing the worst of El Niño until February, with droughts expected to hit most of the countryside until April.
Experts from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, however, have observed a “weakening” El Niño and are expecting the dry spell to be over by mid-year.
But until then, Paje urged the people to think about sectors suffering the brunt of El Niño like agriculture, fisheries, energy and the environment the next time they let faucets run continuously when washing their hands, shaving, and brushing their teeth.
“We need to think about how our actions affect everyone’s food supply and electricity,” he said.
Paje expressed concern about the setback that El Niño could bring to the government’s massive reforestation program, as leaves dry up and become easily prone to forest fires.
The DENR and other government agencies have released separate advisories and tips on how to conserve water in anticipation of the dry spell.
El Niño is the climate interaction between the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere and is linked to the warming of sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific.
The phenomenon influences weather patterns, ocean conditions and fisheries across the world over an extended period of time.
El Niño has a cycle span of two to seven years.
The Philippines last experienced it between mid-2009 and mid-2010.
James Konstantin Galvez