FINALLY the rainy season has begun. The water-bearing “habagat” winds from the southwest started flowing in strength last Tuesday, June 30, ending the long wait for the start of the season.
Weeks before the rains, household water rationing had begun in many parts of Metro Manila as the water level at Angat Dam in Bulacan, the city’s principal source of water supply, dipped below the 160-meter critical level. After Tuesday’s rains, the water level rose to 160.34 meters.
Water rationing to Metro Manila households should now end. But the allocation of irrigation water from Angat Dam to rice fields in Bulacan and Pampanga will have to wait until the dam’s water level reaches 180 meters.
Tuesday’s rains, while raising Angat Dam’s water level, also caused flooding in many towns in Central Luzon. This is the negative side of the start of the rainy season, but it is a minor concern when considered against the relief brought about by the end of household water rationing.
The unusually dry weather in the country early this year revived calls for measures to save the rainwater that now causes flooding in lowland areas and then flows on to the seas around our islands. It is time we took concrete steps to save all this rainwater that is actually one of our precious natural resources.
The proposals include the construction of weirs or mini-dams around Metro Manila, aside from tapping the big Wawa Dam in the Sierra Madre mountains. There are many other water sources that could be tapped, including Laguna Lake and Kaliwa Dam in Quezon Province. There is a bill in Congress that would require project developers to set aside part of the project area to set up a rainwater harvesting facility. And there is a proposal to create a central water authority – a Department of Water – that would consolidate all these various proposals and see to their implementation.
Many of these proposals are old ones, but once the rains begin falling, they tend to be forgotten and set aside. Our specially difficult summer just past, intensified by the El Niño hot-weather phenomenon in the Pacific, should move our officials to act decisively on these proposals.
The rain we are now having are truly showers of blessing that we welcome. Now we must go further and save them for the times of need that will surely come in our annual seasonal changes of heat and cold, drought and flooding.