There’s an old British proverb: ‘You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry.’

Water Shot by WWF-Philippines & Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan

Scientists have warned that the Philippines will reach crisis point by 2025 if the current wastage of water is not halted. Metro Manila needs 1068 million cubic meters of water a year, yet groundwater resources can only produce up to 191 million cubic meters. By 2025 Metro Manila will need up to 4000 million cubic meters of water annually. Eight other major cities face the same situation – Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Angeles, Zamboanga, Baguio and Cagayan de Oro.

Urbanizing landscapes south of Manila in the CALABARZON region are confronted with the same problem. In the Santa Rosa Watershed for example, ground water studies show that the rate of extraction will exceed the rate of groundwater recharge by 2023.  Envisioned as the ‘new’ Makati, this rapidly urbanizing river basin will demand more freshwater than what the watershed may be able to supply.

“Rapid population growth, intensive land development and landscape changes are happening at a dramatic pace,” says World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) Senior Water Resources Manager Ed Tongson. “These will impose significant demands on food, fresh water resources, plus waste and wastewater disposal facilities – intensifying flooding and pollution in downstream areas.”

Many shallow wells in lakeside Laguna communities are reported to be depleted, polluted and unfit for human consumption. Septage and untreated wastes are currently polluting shallow aquifers and canals feeding the Laguna Lake.

Pressing issues are overshadowed by the bigger questions on where and how the new developments will draw freshwater. How and where will they dispose of waste? What needs to be done by LGUs, locators and subdivisions? How can the private sector contribute to solutions? What are the institutional arrangements that need to be put in place? How can we ensure holistic and integrated management of freshwater resources?

“While solutions to these problems are not new, the lack of accountable, decentralized management structures is at the core of the problem. There are over 30 agencies involved in the management of one or more aspects of the water cycle, where planning is uncoordinated and fragmented. Yet, not one of them is responsible for coordinating and orchestrating water resource development, conjunctive use, treatment and proper disposal,” says Tongson.

On 29 November 2012, a stakeholder summit entitled ‘Instituting Water Resources Management for the Santa Rosa Sub-Watershed’ was convened. The summit presented the results of the five-year watershed program implemented by WWF-Philippines together with the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the City Governments of Santa Rosa, Binan, Cabuyao and the Municipality of Silang. Watershed issues and actions, contained in the draft Framework Plan for Water Quality and Integrated Water Resources Management for the Sta. Rosa watershed, and next steps for implementation were presented.

This was followed by a presentation by LLDA on the Hydrologic Atlas for Laguna De Bay 2012. The atlas is designed to be a source of hydrologic data for environmental assessments made by flood engineers, water suppliers, irrigation managers and environmental consultants working in the basin.  The practical application of the Atlas on flood and water balance modelling in adjacent San Cristobal was presented.

The five-year program was implemented by WWF-Philippines through a generous grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation.

“As a company that produces the world’s best beverages, part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to sustainability – especially for its 100th year in the country – is water stewardship,” says Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager Guillermo Aponte. “This means safely returning to both Filipino communities and to the environment the amount of water equivalent to what the company uses for its operations. As Laguna de Bay is such a vital source of water and life for the country, it was natural for us to support the production of WWF’s Hydrologic Atlas Study. Only with a better understanding of the water resources that we use and enjoy today will we be able to better conserve and safeguard tomorrow’s sources of water. With everyone’s help, we can keep the water flowing.” (30)

For more information, please contact:

Edgardo Tongson

Senior Water Resources Manager

WWF-Philippines

(02) 920-7926

etongson@wwf.org.ph

Bessie Adea Arciga

Corporate Communications & Brand PR Manager

The Coca-Cola Export Corporation (TCCEC)

barciga@coca-cola.com

Gregg Yan

Communications & Media Manager

WWF-Philippines

gyan@wwf.org.ph