Are We Facing Water Shortage Amidst The COVID-19 Lockdown? Here’s How To Help Conserve Water
The dry season could be bringing an unprecedented water shortage. So every little effort (and drop) counts!
The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has been creating disruption in all facets of our lives—and our water supply is not exempted. With the dry season upon us, will households succumb to water shortage and interruptions as we stay home in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)?
Our water usage and supply
According to world estimates, each person uses around 100 liters of water per day. A chunk of this goes to taking a bath, flushing the toilet, washing clothes, and now, washing our hands as response to the COVID-19 outbreak. But while staying under 100 liters of water should be enough to keep water supply steady, many (unknowingly) go overboard.
Imagine, a 5-minute shower can consume up to 80 liters of water. Each toilet flush uses about 9 liters. Washing a sink full of dishes can eat up to 18 liters and one quick wash with your washing machine can take up to 75 liters. When you add up the water you use for washing your hands, disinfecting your grocery items, watering the plants, cleaning the house, cooking, and so much more, you’ll find that you’re using water way above what the supply can handle.
Currently, Metro Manila is supplied by two water concessionaires: Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water. These concessionaires draw water from three dams: Angat Dam, Ipo Dam, and La Mesa Dam.
Dry season, historically, pushes Metro Manila to fluctuating water supply. Last year alone, ten thousand households across the metro lost water because of critically low levels of water at the La Mesa Dam, delay of water infrastructure projects, and the forever problem of non-revenue water (water that has been lost before it reaches the customer due to leakage and wastage).
With summer in full swing (as of March 20, according to PAGASA), should we be anxious about losing water again as we stay cooped inside our houses due to the ECQ?
Currently, many households around metro manila are experiencing rotating water service interruptions amidst the quarantine due to emergency repairs and several problems. While there should be no instances of 24-hour interruptions, the erratic water supply when people can’t go out is alarming people.
Manila Water has been very transparent about the levels of the three dams to keep the public informed about the water supply. As of April 3, water levels of the Angat Dam and La Mesa Dam are higher than 2019 levels, which should be assuring people that we have enough supply.
But not to worry, because Maynilad and Manila Water have both assured the public that they have crafted mitigation plans to ensure continuing supply as a lesson after last year’s water nightmare. Maynilad is also ready to mount cloud-seeding operations over Angat Dam and can deploy water treatment plants that will draw water from small rivers in Cavite and from Laguna lake.
How does this affect us?
Although there should be enough supply during this quarantine, last year’s water drought should be a lesson for everyone to never overestimate the capabilities of our dams. And with people inside their homes all the time right now, we are at the mercy of our homes’ water supply for our day-to-day activities and necessities.
Many global media houses are alluding to water shortage due to the increased demand of water brought by the recommendation for frequent hand washing. For example, did you know that if your tap is left running during your 20-second hand wash, 1.5-2 liters of water will go to waste? Multiply that by how many times you wash your hands in a day and how many people are in your household. That’s easily over 100 liters on top of your usual consumption, thrown and wasted.
So, as responsible citizens, it is our duty to use our water conscientiously if we want to help our concessionaires plug the demand for sufficient water.
How can we save water?
There are many ways to use water more efficiently so you can lower your individual and household consumption.
Turn off the faucet during those 20 seconds. Open the tap, wet your hands, close the tap, put soap on your hands and lather for 20 seconds, put soap on the tap, open tap, rinse your hands and the tap, and then close the tap.
In the mornings and evenings, follow the same concept with washing your hands by not leaving your faucets open when not in use.
You can recycle the water that you used to rinse your produce for watering the garden.
your clothes less frequently
Try to do your laundry in bigger batches. That means a full load when using the washing machine and washing more clothes if you’re hand washing. This way, you make use of the water more efficiently, instead of using the same amount of water for a lot of smaller batches.
smart about your toilet
If you were able to invest in dual-flush toilets before the ECQ, good. Make sure to use the half-flush button for when you’re only taking a leak because that uses way less water than the full flush. Most homes also have a bucket and dipper beside their toilets. You can rinse your toilet with one dipper-full of water instead of flushing.
Following the same concept with washing your hands, turn off your shower when you’re putting shampoo or conditioner, or when you’re soaping your body. Or if you can, using a bucket and dipper combo is much more water-efficient, and makes for a good exercise, too!
and water by hand
A hosepipe can use as much as 1,000 liters of water an hour. So clean your car or your outdoors with a bucket of soapy water instead of using a hose, or water your plants with a watering can.
You can capture and store rainwater using those big blue 55-gallon drums, which you can then use to clean your garage, water your garden, or even wash rugs and carpets.
Did you know that a dripping tap can waste 15 liters of water a day? So, keep your faucets in tip-top shape.
You may think what you’re contributing may be small, but every liter saved counts. Convince your family, your neighborhood to do this and we can be saving so much water collectively.
Stay home, stay safe!