House to probe poor execution of rainwater collector law As nation braces for nine-month El Niño
Office of LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, House Deputy Minority Leader
Room 607 South Wing, House of Representatives, Constitution Hills, Quezon City, Tel No. 931-5144
May 11, 2014
House to probe poor execution of rainwater collector law
As nation braces for nine-month El Niño
Amid warnings of an unusually strong El Niño weather pattern, House Deputy Minority Leader and LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty has prodded the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) “to forcefully put into action” a 25-year-old law that calls for the installation of rainwater collectors in every barangay.
“We are now counting on DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, who was designated water czar way back in 2011, to give the highest priority to the performance of the law requiring the widespread construction of rainwater harvesters,” Ty said.
Ty was referring to Republic Act (RA) 6715, the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Act of 1989.
Ty’s fresh push for rainwater collectors came shortly after climate scientists warned that a spike in Pacific Ocean sea temperatures and the rapid movement of warm water eastwards could produce this year one of the harshest El Niño weather patterns in several decades.
In the Philippines, El Niño is expected to bring below-average rainfall over a nine-month period -- from the second half of this year until the first quarter of 2015, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
PAGASA said the water level in Angat Dam could become critically low this month due to reduced rainfall. The dam supplies 90 percent of the water requirements of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
This has prompted Malacañang to call on the public to save water.
El Niño may also cause violent changes in the behavior of storms, including their track and intensity, PAGASA said.
The country experienced the worst El Niño in 1997 and 1998, which caused extensive damage to agriculture.
“We have to aggressively bring rainwater collectors into play here. This is the best water conservation strategy that we now have. We simply have to vigorously carry out the law,” Ty said.
Section 2 of RA 6715 states: "The Department of Public Works and Highways shall, within 30 days after the approval of this Act, undertake the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the Philippines in such number as may be needed and feasible, taking into consideration the population, hydrologic conditions, costs of project development and operations, financial and economic factors and institutional arrangements."
Ty said the House minority will ask two House committees -- on public works and highways and on ecology -- “to look into the apparent lackluster performance of the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Act.”
“It is quite evident that up to now, only a few barangays have the rainwater collectors mandated by law,” Ty said.
“We have to encourage the hoarding of rainwater to lessen surface runoff during the wet season, and save fresh water for use during severe droughts,” he added.
Surface runoff refers to rainwater that flows over the land once the soil is fully saturated.
“It is indeed ironic that while many communities are swamped by floodwaters every time we experience excessive rainfall during the west season, the same communities also face harsh shortages of fresh water during prolonged dry spells,” Ty said.
Meanwhile, Ty urged local governments to require new development projects -- whether malls, residential subdivisions, office or residential condominiums, or golf courses -- to comply with rigorous rainwater harvesting mandates.
“We still have golf courses using fresh water, instead of stored rainwater, for their greens. Buildings are still using fresh water to flush toilets, when rainwater can easily do the job,” he said.
These wasteful practices are no longer acceptable with brutal climate change, Ty said.