“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” MITCH HEDBERG
By Alex P. Vidal
The real problem we are facing today is water crisis, not whether we have the best board of directors in the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD). Even the best water czars are useless if the faucets are empty.
The role of appointing the new set of MIWD board members is ministerial on the part of Iloilo Governor Art Defensor, who has agreed to “share” (via consultation) his authority to select the new water bosses with Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Even if Gov. Defensor and Mayor Mabilog will appoint Vid-ava, a water deity, to the MIWD board, whoever is in charge of the water management will most likely face the same problem tackled by the past board of directors. Water problem has been there since time immemorial.
Water scarcity affects not only Ilonggos but also Cebuanos, Warays, Ilocanos, especially in far flung areas in Mindanao. It is an abstract concept to many and a stark reality for others. It is the result of myriad environmental, political, economic, and social forces. Metro Manila has the worst water crisis. People kill each other because of dispute in water supply or the lack of it.
There were times when Ilonggos were up in arms against the MIWD in particular, and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) in general for their failure to provide adequate water supply in areas covered by their jurisdiction. When faucets of residential areas in municipalities of Oton, Maasin, San Miguel, Pavia, Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan, and Leganes dried up, there was domino effect in the entire metropolis. Just like electricity, water crisis victimizes both the rich and poor.
Ilonggos criticized MIWD officials not really because some of them were corrupt, but because they needed water in their faucets — and there was none. And they wanted it quick. They wanted it soon. Water is life of everyone.
Vigilance and empowerment on the part of residents is needed to explore the local stories and global trends defining the world’s water crisis. We must learn and study where freshwater resources exist; how they are used; and how climate, technology, policy, and people play a role in both creating obstacles and finding solutions.
In the global water summit attended by Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim in Baltimore, USA recently, people were exhorted to make a research and peruse important reading materials, so we can learn how to make a difference by reducing our water footprint and getting involved with local and global water conservation and advocacy efforts.
The United Nations has informed us that water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.
Wherever we are, we need water to survive. Not only is our body 60 percent water, the resource is reportedly also essential for producing food, clothing, and computers, moving our waste stream, and keeping us and the environment healthy.
Experts say humans have proved to be inefficient water users. Report said the average hamburger takes 2,400 liters, or 630 gallons, of water to produce, and many water-intensive crops, such as cotton, are grown in arid regions.
Here are some of the facts that manifest imminent water crisis in the global scale as reported in the National Geographic: Freshwater makes up a very small fraction of all water on the planet. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just one percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people.
Due to geography, climate, engineering, regulation, and competition for resources, some regions seem relatively flush with freshwater, while others face drought and debilitating pollution. In much of the developing world, clean water is either hard to come by or a commodity that requires laborious work or significant currency to obtain.