Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink
Editor's note: Below is a letter Amb. Arizala wrote to his cousin Dady. Amb. Arizala poses a great question regarding water problem and conservation in Infanta a beyond. Anyone who has an answer to the ambassador's question is welcome.
I am writing you to find out how we are approaching our water problem in our hometown of Infanta blessed by rivers, streams and creeks. We have the big and long winding Agus River coming up from the Siera Madre - the Kaliwa and the Kanan sources which flow down the mountain through plains and valleys of Infanta and General Nakar, Quezon. And this is aside from springs, streams and creeks such as the Tanza, Bukal and
Sala water sources. Do we have no water problem in Infanta? If none, thank the Lord but let us find ways of conserving said water sources. If we have problem of water now, what do we do about it?
I am asking you the above questions because of a column by Mr. Romeo Y. Lim in the Malaya newspaper of 19 April 2010, titled: "Water Woes", pertinent portion of which read as follows:
"So imagine how upset I was learning the true state of our water situation from the deputy campaign director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia who says that the "water levels in the dams in Luzon have been going down to very alarming levels. In Angat, dam waters have gone down to 179.55 meters above sea level (masl), way below its normal level of 210 masl.
"In Ambuklao, the water level is at 740.19 masl, which is below the normal level of 752 masl. In Binga, it is 560.25 masl, below the normal level of 575. In Caliraya, it is 285.83 masl, below the normal level of 289.15 masl."
"Greenpeace and the National Power Corporation have joined forces to monitor the water level in Angat dam through their joint effort, Water Watch.
"Often, I do not pay much attention to the water situation as it is a normal occurrence to be panic-stricken every summer when the dams’ water levels go down. I don’t because as soon as the rainy season kicks in, the water levels rise like nobody’s business.
"But what bothers me is exactly that – we either have too much or too little supply and as Greenpeace’s Mr. Dia points out, "urgent political action is needed to "climate-proof" the country’s water resources."
If you may recall, we "Infantahins" as well as people from neighboring towns of Gen. Nakar and Real Quezon made a protest march to Manila requesting authorities concerned not to construct the Laiban Dam up the Sierra Madre mountains using the Agus River because aside from displacing hundreds or thousands of people in the area, such dam would adversely affect the environment and likely make our agricultural lands run dry because our irrigation system is dependent on said Agus river. Even non-Infantahins, like a friend and former colleague Amba. Jose Zaide in his column Below the Line (Manila Bulletin) has been advocating that instead of constructing a dam in Laiban, it is far better - being less expensive and nearer to Manila to utilize or harness the Wawa Dam to quench the thirst of Manilans.
If we have to "climate -proof" our country's water resources, which should be one of the priority policies of whoever gets elected as President of the Philippines on 10 May 2010, we should start now in towns and villages of the Philippines such as in Infanta, Gen. Nakar and Real, Quezon areas to make steps in the grand design to having "climate-proof" our country's water resources, and not wait for the authorities in Manila or cities to take the necessary moves. The conservation and wise utilization of water supply should start from its source.
So, may I go back to my question: What have we done in our town to wisely utilize and conserve our water resources? I am asking you this question because you have decided to retire and live in our hometown after your successful stint in the U.S. as a medical doctor. Your voice, I am sure would be heard and cannot be ignored by local authorities of our hometown.
Thank you cousin Dady and warmest regards.