LETTERS FROM DAVAO: Glaciers, aquifers, water and politics

Until astronomers and cosmonauts can truly confirm that there is water in the surface of the Moon or Mars our Earth, the third nearest from the Sun, remains to be the only planet in the solar system that has water. That makes water an inter-galactic commodity for this sustains life.

LETTERS FROM DAVAO: Serafin C. Ledesma, Jr. (Guest Columnist)
Column from the Philippine News Agency

  I just came back from an exciting adventure in Alaska which  includes a dog sledding in a glaciers in Skagway. Imagine landing on top of it and greeted by Huskies which give you a joyride over the glaciers. Glaciers, according to our sled instructor, are made up of ice topped with about 15 feet of snow.  A chopper took us there passing over snow-capped rocky mountains  which makes you forget the hours as you contemplate over the strange yet awesome site.

  As I pondered weak and weary, I remembered  having read somewhere that the ocean is actually 97% of the earth’s water and that 2.15%  is from glaciers and ice. The Davao City Water District which draws water from the aquifers is only a drop of the total 0.61% ground water on earth. Fresh waters from our lakes and rivers are almost insignificant but given the fact that these add up to what man can imbibe we have to take care of these water sources and the environment where these are found.

  The glaciers in Alaska and elsewhere in the north and south poles hold substantial volume of water but it is cheaper to desalinate sea water than to liquefy the ice caps and transport it to arid regions in the equator, the Philippines included.

    Closer to home, at the height of the just concluded midterm elections, water supply and the lack of it became a staple of the opposition’s campaign. Otso Deretso senate slate created an issue against themselves for questioning the rationale behind the government’s plan to put up dams and condemning the idea of sourcing loans and technical expertise from China to expedite the construction of the dams. But dams make inexpensive reservoirs which can mitigate flash floods and allocate water for irrigation, much need supply for water-starved Manila Water and Maynilad and for hydropower plant that could add to the critical energy generation for the entire Luzon. Makes us wonder therefore why the opposition thought it was a bad plan. 

    Pres. Rodrigo Duterte once aired his beef noting that many parts of Central Luzon are submerged in water when rains come but would ironically suffer shortage when summer sets in. Part of the solution is for the government to construct dams in Kaliwa and Laiban a plan which the opposition opposed. There is the vast Laguna Lake where raw water can be drawn and processed, something which the water concessionaires can do with the billions that they collect from consumers for distributing waters supplied by the government/Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System. Sadly they would rather wait for government to do that for them.  Something has to be drastically done, short of dismissing MWSS officials as the President had announced but that will be altogether another story.

  The lake water is an alternative source for Metro Manila in the same manner that in Davao City, DCWD had entered into a contract with Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., to tap the surface water of Tamugan and Panigan rivers. Mt. Tipolog is the main recharge area of the twin rivers which had been reforested and well-guarded by the Indigenous tribes. Opposite the river banks of Mt.Tipolog moreover is the presence of banana and flower plantations and livestock operation that are located in the slopes which are part of the protected watersheds of Panigan. Organic and pesticide pollutants have to be totally eliminated as these are health hazards. These should be immediately addressed by the new members of the Legislative Council in the same manner that the Laguna Lake Authority must address the pollution problems with iron hands.

    The pollution problems in Laguna Lake are thousand times worse than that of Tamugan and Panigan rivers given the various heavy industrial establishments and trash from habitations that ringed the lake. However, just the same, the issue of pollution poses as a big challenge given the fact that these two potential sources of water are on the pipeline for development.

  The meager source of fresh water in our earth has to be conserved and preserved by us. There are no more galactic forces to guard our earth as the Avengers have done their final and mythical end game.