LGUs urged to beef up El Niño mitigation efforts

LGUs urged to beef up El Niño mitigation efforts

MANILA – Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Wednesday urged local government units (LGUs) to beef up contingency measures to cushion the impact of the looming El Niño phenomenon.

This comes after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issued an alert, forecasting the phenomenon may emerge in the next three months until the first quarter of 2024.

“Conserving water is one of the key actions needed to be taken to mitigate effects of El Niño and as public servants, we must set an example. These precautionary steps, albeit small, can make a big difference that can affect our communities,” Abalos said in a statement.

The DILG chief issued a memorandum circular enjoining all local chief executives (LCEs) to sustain mitigating efforts in place and to take actions within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Included in the mitigation efforts are the urgent enactment of ordinances curbing illegal connections and encouraging prudent water usage; allowing water concessionaires and water utilities to conduct emergency leak repairs; lifting of application of number coding schemes to water tankers used by water concessionaires to immediately address water supply needs of affected customers; implementing and updating of existing contingency plans related to El Niño; and stockpiling of food and non-food items for immediate relief assistance, among others.

The agency advised LGUs to launch massive information and education campaigns in communities on ways to conserve water including fixing water leaks, maximizing rainwater harvesting and storage, and setting the temperature of air conditioning units between 22 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius.

The memorandum circular also listed down water conservation tips, such as turning off the faucet while brushing teeth and using glass instead; removing all leftover foods before washing the dishes and washing them using a small basin; storing and reusing the final rinse water as well as laundry water to flush toilets; watering plants early in the morning or late in the afternoon to minimize evaporation; avoid hosing down vehicles and clean it using a washcloth and pail; using water-efficient gadgets, such as high-pressure, low-volume hoses and showerheads, faucets with aerators and double-flush toilets.

Local chief executives were urged to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture regional offices for cloud seeding operations, implementation of a rotational irrigation scheme and water-saving technology; strategizing of areas to be irrigated and reusing wastewater from drainage canals; utilizing solar pump irrigation; adapting drought-resistant and early-maturing seed varieties; and adjusting cropping calendar, among others.

The Bureau of Fire Protection was told to refrain from unnecessarily drawing water from fire hydrants and limit it only to putting out fires.

These preparatory steps can alleviate the ill effects of El Niño in terms of agriculture, water resources, marine resources, human health, and the environment, as a whole, Abalos said. (PNA)

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