MANILA --  Various experts raised the urgency for water demand management in the country to help guard against adverse situations, such as the water shortage gripping private concessionaire Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWCI). 

"What we usually look at is supply and need to increase this but we must also consider demand for water," National Water Resources Board (NWRB) executive director, Dr. Sevillo David Jr., said in an interview Thursday. 

David said reducing demand helps save water, and water saved becomes available for future use. 

"We must therefore look into (the) management of water demand," he said. 

According to the NWRB, the Philippines has abundant water resources -- groundwater, surface water, as well as 965 mm. to 4,064 mm. of rainfall annually.
In a statement, the board said that based on an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study, the Philippines ranked 38th among 48 countries in terms of national water crisis index. 

"(The) ADB even concluded that (the) cause of the water problem is inappropriate management practices rather than physical scarcity of water," it said. 

Even households must manage their respective water demand, noted Antonio Daño, executive director of the River Basin Control Office.  

"Water demand management is the responsibility of everyone," Daño said on the sidelines of a water summit, one of several activities for this year's celebration of the annual World Water Day. 

This responsibility, he said, extends to households that are collectively among the biggest users of water. 

"It will be a big help if we can do household-level water demand management," Daño said. 

Among the measures households can do are recycling water and using water-efficient fixtures in houses, he said. 

National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon also stressed the need for properly managing water. 

The expansion of water management services has been minimal, Edillon said. 

"Water affects all aspects of the economy," she said at the summit, highlighting the need for such services. 

Earlier this month, several MWCI-serviced communities have experienced water shortage. 

According to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), MWCI has been drawing water from La Mesa Dam since it was not able to deliver last year its Cardona plant for treating water from Laguna Lake,  

This water withdrawal and rainfall reduction due to the ongoing El Niño phenomenon significantly lowered La Mesa's water level, it said in a statement. 

The MWSS noted a surge in several MWCI customers' water-storing activities amid fears a water crisis would worsen the situation in La Mesa. 

Authorities continue to urge the people to avoid hoarding water by storing only what they need, so there would be enough for others as well. (PNA)