July 22, 2024

Water scarcity may continue in the coming months due to the dry spell which is expected to persist until 2024, according to the state weather bureau.

In Baguio City, many residents are complaining of decreased water supply from the Baguio Water District as well as delayed deliveries from private water delivery companies.

This prompted the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) led by Antonette Anaban to call the members of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Committee for the preparation of a contingency plan for El Niño.

The Pagasa said El Niño is characterized by unusually warmer than average sea surface temperatures and increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions, which could bring negative impacts such as dry spells and droughts in some areas of the country.

However, over the western part of the country, above-normal rainfall conditions during the Southwest monsoon season (Habagat) may also be experienced.

Pagasa forecast that surface air temperature will range from below to above average throughout the country during the El Niño period with warmer and humid weather conditions expected in the coming months.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government recently issued Memorandum Circular 2023-065 mandating all local chief executives to take precautionary measures within their respective areas of responsibility to mitigate possible sectoral impacts of El Niño.

Among the possible sectoral impacts of El Nino are the decline in soil moisture availability leading to decline in crop production due to delayed onset of the rainy season and increase in pests and diseases for the agriculture industry.

On water resources, reduced stream flows and groundwater due to less rainfall is expected; reduced water supply and quality, which may affect dams, irrigation, and power generation; over-extraction of groundwater; and less rainfall will have a negative impact on forest resources.

On marine resources, fish kills and red tide as well as decline in fish reduction was predicted.

Healthcare providers are tasked to prepare for possible increase in water-borne diseases such as cholera due to water scarcity; increase in vector-borne disease outbreaks such as malaria and dengue; increased number of people affected by infectious diseases such as measles and meningitis, especially in humanitarian situations; disruption of health services due to lack of water supply; respiratory disease due to smoke from wildfires and deteriorated air quality; and increase in food-borne disease such as salmonella due to higher temperature.

El Niño may also cause land or soil degradation due to loss of vegetation, increase in forest or peatland fires, and poor air quality due to occurrences of smoke, haze, and forest fires. – Jessa Mardy P. Samidan