Water forum 2019Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM-UPLB (left), moderated the discussion during the 2019 Water Forum at UP Diliman. Resource persons on this event include (from left) Dr. Guillermo Tabios III, Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Ms. Rusy Abastillas and Mr. Ramon Alikpala.

The Geological Society of the Philippines organized the water forum entitled “El Niño, Water Infrastructure Planning and the Supposed Water Crisis: Facts and Figures” last April 4, 2019 at the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS), University of the Philippines Diliman. Water experts from different institutions discussed and layout the facts of what really happened regarding the recent water crisis in Metro Manila and the possible solutions to hone the said issue.

Ms. Rusy Abastillas, senior weather specialist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), explained how the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is affecting climate in the Philippines. She also presented the climate outlook of the Philippines for the next few months. She emphasized that there will still be dry spell from April until May, but improvements on the weather will be visible on June.

Meanwhile, Dr. Guillermo Tabios III, former director of the National Hydraulic Research Center, gave an assessment on the cause of water disruption in the east zone of Metro Manila. He also identified alternative water sources like Pampanga River Basin, Laguna Lake, Sumag-Biliway River Basin, Laiban-Kaliwa Dam, and even groundwater sources.

For her part, Dr. Patricia Ann Jaranilla-Sanchez, chair of the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water, discussed about the possible alternative water resources for Metro Manila and the factors to consider for water resources development. She also highlighted that severe floods and droughts are more likely to happen in the future. Hence, optimization and conservation of available water resources is needed. 

Mr. Ramon Alikpala, chief executive officer of Future Water Asia and former chairperson of the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS), introduced the idea of urban water management and cited household-level strategies to optimize water use, such as water loss reduction, pressure management, water reuse, drainage management, and rainwater harvesting. 

During the open forum, many participants sought for an independent regulatory body for water that will spearhead the management of water resources of the country.

Supported by the Rushurgent Working Group, UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management, UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Water, National Research Council of the Philippines, the UP Geology Alumni Association, and the Philippine Association of Geology Students-SEG Student Chapter, more than 300 participants joined this year’s Water Forum.