Blog Action Day 2010: Water Crisis, What Is Being Done?

Imagine a world without disease and health threats. Imagine a world with an abundant and accessible source of clean, fresh water.

More than two decades ago, I never thought that there will be a clean water shortage, much more crisis. I grew up from a province where spring of water abounds. We consumed fresh, clean water directly from its source. I can still remember the taste of freshness and natural minerals.

Naturally, the Philippines has an abundant fresh water resources. The country is surrounded by the ocean and seas that produces rainfall - the most abundant fresh water resource. It also has 421 major river basins, 59 island lakes, swamps and vast ground water sources.

The country, however, is not free from fresh water scarcity. Despite the abundance, population growth, urbanization, lack of new water supply and waste treatment facilities and pollution control system has led to over extraction of ground water, increase in polluted fresh water sources, and decrease in the amount of available fresh clean water.

At no other time has both the quantity and quality of the planet's fresh water are under threat. Scientists, experts, governments and many individuals are now convinced that we are facing global clean water crisis. Because of the rapid population growth, development and many human activities, the demand for fresh, clean water has already began to outstrip the supply.

Clean water shortage is becoming a serious global problem that threatens the inhabitants in the planet, affects the global economy and even causes dispute among people in some parts of the globe.

Where There is No Fresh Clean Water, There is No Life

It is reported that, every year, 1.6 million children die from diarrhea around the world. That is more than the combined numbers of fatalities from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

In the Philippines, the average domestic water consumption is 180 liters per person per day. It is relatively small in terms of volume. But the real issue is more on the constant availability of clean water in every home.

The rapid population growth threatens the water quality as human activities affect water sources. Experts predicted that by year 2025, the country's several river basins will have scarcity in water availability.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) already identified 40 principal rivers in the country as biologically dead. Moreover, most rivers are declared too polluted for domestic use, while more than 50% of the country's ground water is contaminated with fecal coliform and industrial pollutants.

Over the years, manufacturing companies sprouted along the rivers, that cater manufacturing wastes, resulting to chemical pollution of surface waters. In the urban areas, waste dumps also contributed to fresh water hazards.

In 2005, evidences of chemical contamination where found from waste water samples near the country's export processing zones. Ground water aquifers were also found out contaminated with chlorinated chemicals and some heavy metals.

In 2009, we documented a fresh water source threatened with exploitation. It is one of the tributaries to Laguna Lake which is also now polluted. The Laguna Lake, where 16 million people rely for food, water and livelihood is now a toxic dumping ground. It is now contaminated with organic wastes and pollutants and dangerous chemicals from factories, domestic and municipal sewage, agricultural run off and wastes dumps.

Few months ago, "fish Kills" happened at Lake Buhi in Camarines sur. Tons of died Tilapia drifted on the lake. A report said that the lake is too polluted.

We are living in an era with all the convenience possible. Ironically, we are also living in an era with serious problem on scarcity of safe fresh water that fuel all forms of life and has no substitute.

Water Makes the World Go Roud

Practically, all industries use water to survive. manufacturing companies, hospitals, offices, power plants, restaurants, bakeshop, etc, all depend on fresh clean water in order to operate.

In the Philippines, the biggest use of water is in agriculture sector. It is said that to produce one ton of grain requires one thousand tons of water. Although there are still places here that solely depend on rain for water, such as the municipality of Calaca in Batangas and Sta. Maria in Isabela; irrigation, in most area in the country has contributed to the growth of our agriculture in the past 20 years.

Agricultural wastes, however, are also major contaminants of ground water and eventually agricultural pollutants, through excessive floods, will overflow into bodies of surface water.

An Issue of Exploitation and Human Rights

"Access to secure; safer and sufficient source of fresh water is a fundamental requirement for the survival, well-being and socio-economic development of all humanity," said Kofi Annan-U.N Secretary General.

United Nations already declared in July, access to clean water as a human right. Nevertheless, clean water inaccessibility resulted to more exploitation of women and children. It is reported that in South Africa, women and children walk long hours to get water which is, most of the time, not safe for drinking. What's more alarming is that, the task prevent the children from going to school and the women from improving their lives.

In the Philippines, when there is a severe drought, just like recently, 30% cut on water rations in Metro Manila is imposed. Long lines of housewives and children with pails awaiting for the arrival of fire trucks and water tanks is a common scenario.

We Owe It To Future Inhabitants

"We need a water ethic - a guide to right conduct in the face of complex decisions about natural system we cannot fully understand," said Sandra Pastel, author of the book Last Oasis, Facing Water Scarcity.

Solution to the water crisis requires divine responsibility and changes in attitude. Personal sacrifices and selflessness is necessary if we are determined to protect our fresh water sources. Truly individual engagement for the protection of our fresh water source is now vital.

Manufacturing industries now must take a major major shift to clean production to eliminate toxic substances. Sustainable agriculture and organic farming must also be implemented to eliminate risk to fresh water sources. Policy makers must also strategically implement policies on fresh water sources protection.

It is now in our hands to protect this endangered, very important resource that the creator has entrusted to us, to support life. After all, the generation next to us deserve a dwelling place without diseases and health threats. They deserve clean, safe fresh water.

I strongly believe that there is still great hope for abundant supply of clean fresh water, as the Lord had said, "Upon bare hills I shall open up rivers, and in the mid of the valley plains, spring. I shall make the wilderness into a reedy pool of water.." - Isaiah 41: 18, 20.


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