Scientist Warns Of Diminishing Groundwater Supply

July 30th 2008

H ave you ever wondered why some areas in Bulacan and other parts of the Philippines are, like Venice, becoming permanently submerged in water?

This was one of the questions posed by Dr. Fernando Siringan of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute during the Coffeehouse Environmental Forum held at the Communication Foundation for Asia on July 25, 2008.

Dr. Siringan said that excessive groundwater extraction or diminishing groundwater supply results in land subsidence, which in turn, causes floods in coastal areas. In the case of the Italian city of Venice (otherwise known as the “Sinking City”), it sank very rapidly during the mid-Twentieth century as a result of the over-abundance of wells pumping out large amounts of water to supply the needs of the entire region. Dr Siringan said we should therefore pay attention to warning signs in our own country, where we see many towns experiencing floodwaters for weeks even without rain. There are indications of subsidence in places where artesian wells appear to rise up from the ground.

The UP professor and scientist also pointed out that demand for groundwater rises as population increases. A large part of uncontrolled groundwater extraction is made by households and industries. He mentioned the Camanava area in Metro Manila, where land subsidence has deteriorated and floods have worsened.

Dr. Siringan offered some suggestions to limit land subsidence: 1) limit the use of artesian wells. In this connection, we should encourage water companies to expand their pipe-laying projects to service more areas; 2) properly implement the rules under the Philippine Water Code; and 3) study and implement actions that would trap and store rain water for other use.

As always, the Coffeehouse Forum attracted over a hundred participants from various sectors: schools, government agencies, press, non-government organizations, church and development groups.


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